Crime and U.S. Cities: Recent Patterns and Implications 

Publication Date: January 2009

Publisher: Furman Center for Real Estate

Author(s): Ingrid Gould Ellen; Katherine O'Regan

Research Area: Social conditions

Keywords: crime; neighborhoods; poverty; Community and Economic Development

Type: Working Paper


For most of the twentieth century, U.S. cities – and their high-poverty neighborhoods in particular—were viewed as dangerous, crime-ridden places that middle class, mobile (and typically white) households avoided, fueling suburbanization. While some pundits and policy analysts bemoaned this urban flight, others voiced concern over the potential impact of crime-ridden environments on the urban residents who were left behind. In the past decade or so, the media has instead highlighted the dramatic reductions in crime taking place in many large cities. In this paper we explore these crime reductions and their implications for urban environments.