2015 December 23 Wednesday
2 Order Of Magnitude Murder Rate Range For American Cities

Crime dangers are highly local. St. Louis Missouri has a murder rate over 2 orders of magnitude higher than Chandler Arizona: 49.9 vs 0.4 per 100k population.

Most of the worst cities (St. Louis, Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, Newark NJ) are not a surprise. Next worse is Buffalo and then Pittsburgh. I'm surprised by Pittsburgh. My impression was that it was greatly recovered from its worst rust belt days. But Pittsburgh at 22.4 is substantially worse than Philly at 15.9. I would not live in any place with a murder rate above 10 per 100k and really would avoid 5 per 100k.

What else is weird: Seattle and NYC tie at 3.9. I would have thought Seattle was lower crime than the Big Apple. But gentrification and aggressive policing have worked wonders. Los Angeles is at 6.7 and San Francisco is at 5.3. Big favored liberal professional destination SF isn't as safe as NYC? But Chicago at 15.1 is far worse, though not quite as bad as Philly. Indianapolis at 15.8 is worse than Chicago. I would not have expected that either.


Portland Oregon is at 4.2. Not bad by American city standards. But I expected an even lower number. Its become an iconic urbanist knowledge worker town like SF.

Of course, larger cities are big places and there are much more safe areas and much more dangerous areas. But I'm not keen on living in a safer part of Chicago or a safer part of Philly. I wonder which of the higher crime cities have big gradients of crime rates across their cities and which have more evenly distributed crime.

What else is interesting: the relative rankings of cities differs quite a bit by crime type. Oakland California comes up worst for robbery and auto theft. Anchorage Alaska is worst for rape (admittedly a highly inconsistently reported crime). Tucson AZ is worst for overall property crime. That's surprising to me. Cincinnati is worst for arson.

The take-away from all this: It matters where you live. It also matters where you vacation and where you or your kids go to college.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 December 23 06:10 PM 

Black Death said at December 24, 2015 7:18 AM:

Lots of interesting comparisons. For example, Buffalo is substantially higher than NYC, Pittsburgh tops Philadelphia, Memphis is way ahead of Nashville, and El Paso is much below Dallas or Fort Worth. The overall murder rate in the country, around 4/100,000, has been declining for more than twenty years. The murder rate peaked around 10 in 1980. You have to go back to the early days of the 20th century to find a time when it was as low as it is today. The US murder rate, although high compared to most European countries, is on the low side for the western hemisphere, about the same as Argentina or Chile, and way below Brazil, Mexico or Central America.

Brett Bellmore said at December 24, 2015 9:25 AM:

It's three orders if you get down to the level of neighborhoods.

Colmner said at December 28, 2015 11:12 AM:

Not very nice, but something good can come out of these statistics, for example a lower threat of terrorist attacks from extremist Muslims in large cities. I mean the more dangerous a country becomes, the bigger the dissuasiveness for say, ISIS to be interested in invading. Take for example Mexico who was among the 60 countries thretened by ISIS, what happened? Mexicans all over the country laughed the threat away thinking what would happen to these poor jihadists if they entered Mexico. There was even a news report that read:

"An incursion of 50 jihadists is being reported to have taken place through the southern state of Chiapas, but upon crossing the Suchiate River they were intercepted by members of the Mara who took part of their funds and raped a few of them. Once they were all inside Mexican territory they were stopped by the Mexican Immigration Institute who threatened to beat them if they didn't pay a "fee" to stay in the country. After being extorted thus and still filled with rage in their souls, they continued their way towards Mexico City, but only after a few miles they found all kinds of roadblocks on each road they went through: City Police and Ministerial Police, on some; Preemptive Police, PGR, on others; Army, Marines, druglords and self appointed vigilantes who fight the druglords on others. As some of these groups saw the jihadist strangely dressed they beat the shit out of them and raped many others. Still with their Muslim tenacity they stole a car and continued on. As they approached the 29-million-inhabitant loaded Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Mexico they got lost in the town of Nezahualcoyotl. When they asked for directioans at a traffic light; some of the locals took the opportunity to steal the tires of their car, but got their windshield washed by the bunch of kids in every corner. As soon as they entered Mexico City, they were dragged out of the bus they were riding on and were almost lynched by a mob that confussed them with some rapists they were looking for. Finally the Federales saved them and let them go with their turbans all graffitied. The terrorists wanted to steal yet another car and they did, but they were not careful to read the licence plates indicating that the car could not be driven that day due to the once-a-week program in which you cannot drive your car inside the city, but they were lucky to have been stopped by a police that accepted a quite large bribe. After an hour lost around they finally took the road that leads to Los Pinos -the President's residence-, but couldn't make it because of the half a million + demonstration that took over the streets which included SEP union teachers, indignated students protesting the torturing and killing of 43 of their classmates, parents of the 43 dead, civil servants who had not yet been paid their salaries and some anarchists who broke the car windows. As they were tired and hungry they decided to take a break and eat some spicy tacos on the street corner, but since their stomachs were not as resistant as those of the locals they got one of those 'Moctezuma's Revenge' diarrhea and had to be taken to IMSS, -the national healthcare system in Mexico-, where 8 more died due to lack of prompt attention. Some of the lucky ones who were finally taken care of inside the hospital, were also diagnosed with chikungunya so they had to stay there confined for a time. The few poor sons of Alah that survived tried to call Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi -their leader- but their phone had run out of credit, so they had to go to the nearest Oxxo store where they spent the rest of their money getting their phones back online; after a two-minute conversation their 'TelCel' phone credit ran out again. At the moment it seems that the ISIS terrorists are asking help from the Mexican Human Rights Commission, Teleton, DIF and even the Legionaries of Christ in order to go back to their caliphate promising never again to return, or at least to get in line if they want to mess with our citizens, because in Mexico we do have some real terrorists."

I can imagine some places in Chicago, New York, Detroit where things have gotten to a point in which ISIS terrorists could also be laughed off. Let's look at the bright side of crime.

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