More on Violent Crime and American Cities

While researching the previous post regarding violent crime rates in some of America’s cities, I found myself wondering just how much of a curve effect America’s largest cities have on the nation’s average violent crime and murder/non-negligent manslaughter (NNM) rates overall.

As previously cited, the national averages for overall violent crime and murder/NNM rates for the year 2014 were 365.5/100,000 people and 4.5/100,000 people, respectively.  These numbers represent the latest annual figures in a steady decline that has occurred for well over a generation in this country.

Using the same census-derived estimates for 2014 national population that the Federal Bureau of Investigation used as a baseline (318,857,056 total people), if we were to remove the nation’s most populous city – New York – from the equation (including the city’s population, violent crimes, and murders/NNMs), the country’s average violent crime rate would drop slightly to 359.2/100,000 and the murder/NNM rate would stay the same at 4.5/100,000 (to tenths). 

If we were to remove the nation’s second-most populous city – Los Angeles – the nation’s violent crime rate would fall slightly more to 353.9/100,000 and the murder/NNM rate dip a tick to 4.4/100,000. 

Removing Chicago brings the violent crime rate marginally down to 361/100,000; similarly to Los Angeles, the murder/NNM rate would be reduced to 4.4/100,000.

Houston notionally accounts for virtually identical decreases in violent crime as Chicago (rounded to tenths), as does Philadelphia.

Obviously, removing only a single city from the equation does nothing to appreciably impact the nation’s overall average rates.  But, these five most populous cities account for just 18,883,826 people (5.9% of the total) and a whopping 131,757 violent crimes (11.3% of the total) and 1,494 murders/NNMs (10.5% of the total).  These numbers equate to rates of 697.7/100,000 and 7.9/100,000 (nearly double the national averages), respectively.  Removing them all would bring the nation’s average overall violent crime rate down to 344.6/100,000 people (5.7% reduction) and the average murder/NNM rate to 4.25/100,000 (5.6% reduction).

But in a nation this large, even these numbers barely move the needle.  Where you really start to see changes in the national numbers is when you look at a large chunk of the biggest cities – namely, the largest 25.  Clearly, the lion’s share of the violent crime and murders/NNMs in this nation occur within these largest, most densely populated urban centers.  The 25 most populous America cities accounted for a total of 37,654,301 people (11.8%), 944,087 violent crimes (81%), and 5,827 murders/NNMs in 2014 (40.1%).  These figures amount to a cumulative violent crime rate of 2,507.2/100,000 people, nearly seven times the national average for that year.  These cities also had an aggregate murder/NNM rate of 15.5/100,000 people, almost 3 1/2 times the national average.

For demonstration contextual and demonstration purposes, if we could somehow remove America’s 25 most populous cities the nation’s overall violent crime rate for 2014 would have been 78.7 (a greater than 78% reduction) and its murder/NNM rate would have been 2.99 (a 34% reduction). 

Without America’s cities, it is clear that the country would be considerably safer overall.  These population hubs contribute significantly disproportionately to the ill deeds in this country.  It is certainly not rural America that is driving these results. 

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