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The Review of Economics and Statistics



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The Review of Economics and Statistics VOL LXXXI MAY 1999 NUMBER 2 CRIME URBAN FLIGHT AND THE CONSEQUENCES FOR CITIES Julie Berry Cullen and Steven D Levitt Abstract This paper analyzes the link between rising city crime rates and urban ight Each additional reported crime is associated with a roughly one person decline in city population Almost all of the crime related population decline is attributable to increased out migration rather than a decrease in new arrivals Households that leave the city because of crime are much more likely to remain within the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area SMSA than those that leave the city for other reasons Migration decisions of highly educated households and those with children are particularly responsive to changes in crime Causality appears to run from rising crime rates to city depopulation I Introduction T HE DIFFICULTIES confronting large American cities in recent decades are well documented e g Bradbury et al 1982 Gottdeiner 1986 Wilson 1987 Inman et al 1994 Crime is one of the greatest challenges facing large American cities Violent crime rates in U S cities with populations over 500 000 in 1993 were four times higher than in cities with populations below 50 000 and seven times greater than in rural areas 1 The level of crime in large cities is even more remarkable when one considers that both per capita expenditures on police and the level of victim precaution e g locked doors private security guards alarm systems are much greater in large cities 2 Recent estimates suggest that the average crime victimization cost per resi Received for publication April 29 1997 Revision accepted for publication August 11 1998 University of Michigan and University of Chicago and American Bar Foundation respectively We would like to acknowledge the helpful comments of Daron Acemoglu Philip Cook David Cutler William Fischel Edward Glaeser Jonathon Gruber Jerry Hausman Lawrence Katz John Lott David Mustard James Poterba Richard Voith



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