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One of Detroit’s many abandoned factories (Wikipedia)
A city’s high violent crime rate can result from any number of societal factors, and attempts at pinpointing can quickly turn into a tricky — if not specious — exercise.
While it’s easy enough to find correlations, proving causation becomes a far greater challenge: just because two variables occur simultaneously does not mean one was the cause of the other. For instance, even though most violent cities also have higher-than-average unemployment rates, not all all cities with high unemployment rates are violent. And while some perennially high-crime cities clearly suffer from a shortage of police officers, many relatively safe cities also have a low rate of officers per population.
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Photo by Adam Katz/flickr
After spiking in the 1980s, crime rates in the United States – for both violent and property crimes – fell significantly in the last two decades. In particular, the rate of violent crime (murder, rape, aggravated assault and burglary) by 2012 had dropped to less than half what it was in 1991, according to FBI data (from 758 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans to 387).
And although a disproportionately high level of violent crime still occurs in densely populated urban areas, many of America’s big cities experienced similar downward trends. That includes the nations’s two largest metropolises — New York and Los Angeles — both of which had precipitous drops in their violent crime rates. Continue reading