Are Crime Rates Higher In Urban Areas?
Before continuing, we should examine the latest evidence about urban crime. Although most often assumed to be the case, an important question is whether crime levels are higher in urban versus rural areas. According to crime statistics, community size does make a difference, as crime rates are higher in urban than in rural areas. Violent and property crime rates in our largest cities (Metropolitan Statistical Areas, or MSAs) are three to four times as high as the rates in rural communities (Barkan). These statistics hold for nearly all types of crime. For example, according to 1995 statistics from the Uniform Crime Reports, in U.S. metropolitan areas, homicide claims 11 victims per 100,000 inhabitants and more than 25 per 100,000 in some of the largest cities. In small cities and in rural counties, homicide claims only 5 victims per 100,000, and fewer than 2 per 100,000 in our most rural states (Federal Bureau of Investigation). This pattern also occurs for robbery and assault; they are much more common in large urban areas than elsewhere. Like violent crime, property crime is lowest in rural areas (Barkan). Further, this urban-rural difference has been found in Canada, England, Australia, and the Netherlands (Shover). These statistics present criminologists with the challenge of explaining why crime levels are much higher in urban than rural areas.