Safest and most dangerous U.S. cities

by on December 18, 2008 at 9:48 am in Data Source | Permalink

Here is a list, via Craig Newmark.  For the large cities, note that of the five safest (San Jose, Honolulu, El Paso, New York, Austin), I believe four have substantial Latino populations.  San Diego and San Antonio are next in line for safety.  Of the five least safe major cities (Detroit, Baltimore, Memphis, Washington, Philadelphia), none has an especially large Latino population.

Here is a bit more.  Here is a lot more.

1 Brian Shelley December 18, 2008 at 10:02 am

The crazy thing about El Paso is the fact that they are just across the river from Ciudad Juarez, which had an estimated 1500 murders last year. El Paso had 16. A murder rate 1/37th of its neighbor across the border.

2 db December 18, 2008 at 10:17 am

Yeah, I’m surprised to see El Paso on the list.

3 v December 18, 2008 at 10:39 am

That was not a nice post to say the least since Tyler was definitely drawing attention to the demographics of these cities and the inevitable conclusion would be that a certain non-Hispanic minority (hint hint) seems to be correlated with crime rates…I suppose Tyler could claim that his post was in fact promoting tolerance of Hispanics but that is hardly credible considering the unmistakable implication that demographics of certain groups = crime rates…

4 steve December 18, 2008 at 10:46 am

Hey, let’s not shoot the messenger here. It is well known that crime is a problem in the black community. Thats unfortunate and reflects a complex, only somewhat well understood set of causes, many of which are the legacy of slavery. I really think that Tyler makes an interesting point drawing attention ot the lower crime rate in hispanic populated urban areas.

5 superdestroyer December 18, 2008 at 10:55 am

First, what is the largest city in the U.S. that is more than 50% white. I doubt if it is in the top 50 cities. Thus, the largest cities are either more black than hispanics or more Hispanic than black. The statisitic just shows that Hispanics are less violent, on average, than blacks.

6 Jimbino December 18, 2008 at 11:01 am

Austin, one of the safest large cities, is extremely segregated. Latinos occupy the south and southeast side, Blacks the east side, and whites the north, central and northwest. I would be interested in seeing the crime incidence by neighborhood in Austin.

7 Jimbino December 18, 2008 at 11:10 am

Here’s a map of crime in Austin by neighborhood:

8 Bob Murphy December 18, 2008 at 11:18 am

For what it’s worth–and I don’t know him except through his public persona–I thought Tyler was trying to be a kinder, gentler right-winger and defuse people’s fears of immigrants. I don’t think he was trying to criticize black people, even though that was the obvious elephant in the room with his decision to bring up race.

9 dt December 18, 2008 at 11:38 am

You can say that Tyler is drawing attention to “a certain non-Hispanic minority (hint hint)” but I have to agree with Bob Murphy. Plenty of people associate Latinos with crime and gang violence as well, and this data seems to deny that.

10 Robert Wenzel December 18, 2008 at 12:04 pm

I think we have a bit of over aggregation here, both in the post and the comments.

The Hispanic population in NY is significantly Puerto Rican, which is a lot different than say, the Mexican population in California. For one thing, Puerto Ricans don’t have to fear deportation, so there isn’t the natural tendency to be a bit low profile that I would imagine is the case with Mexican illegals. My bet is the data would show Puerto Ricans are much more involved in violent crimes in the U.S.than Mexicans (adjusted, of course, for the size of their respective populations in the U.S.)

As for blacks, I don’t think violent crime is a black thing as much as it is blacks reared in the U.S. since LBJ’s Great Society. He created the lack of opportunities, outside of crime, for this group.

On the other hand, blacks reared outside the U.S., and now living here, tend to be much less violent. Ethiopians are gentle people, beautiful people. Nigerians are gentle, but I think largely hate the white man. (And yes, I realize these are broad generalizations, with many exceptions)

11 chris December 18, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Why the pre-emptive hysteria? The African-American crime rate is significantly higher than other groups. This is well-known and easily verified.

How can it be an evil thing to simply acknowledge an easily verifiable fact about the world?

This Orwellian denial of a known fact doesn’t do anybody any good. It doesn’t help reduce crime or protect victims.

12 StreetWalker December 18, 2008 at 1:30 pm

@Robert Wenzel

I find this discussion confusing. What is a Latino? Someone whose grand parent sused to speak Spanish?
Or just someone from Latin American origins? Is that different than a Hispanic?

Until I know what these terms mean, I can’t address your comment accurately.

There is a distance between Puerto Ricans and Nuyoricans – there are issues there so you can’t just make any claims without distinguishing those 2 groups. And they are by no means the largest group of Latins or Spanish-speakers here anymore, I think.

Likewise Latino in NYC can include Dominicans, Argentines, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, Brazilians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Costa Ricans, Colombians, Ecuadorians, and Peruivans, all of whom are well-represented here. They have different income levels cultures and backgrounds, so to discuss Latino in an NYC context is too broad.

African-American, African or black in NYC is likewise fraught. We should just abandon these useless and confusing terms in today’s world.

It would be better to be more clear about ethnic or national origin – even many Mexicans might be considered in light of being Nuahatl- or Mayan-speaking for example.

13 Gregory December 18, 2008 at 1:38 pm

There is a problem here with New Orleans not on any list.

I am convinced that NOPD fudges the crime stats but not enough to exclude the city from all lists.

14 Edward Harrison December 18, 2008 at 1:43 pm

As for the black/latino discussion, I thought I would point out too tidbits:

1. New York is one of the five safest cities on the list and has a very large black and a very large latino population.

2. Latinos and blacks are not mutually exclusive. In fact, a large percentage of the latinos who live in New York are black and from the Dominican Republic.

In my mind, this post is just a tidbit. Tyler is not trying to prove causality. He is just pointing out an interesting tidbit.

15 mafiosa December 18, 2008 at 2:02 pm

I don’t see this as a comparison between blacks and latinos.

There is a large perception in this country that high hispanic immigration causes crime. Tyler is simply noting that some of the safest cities have large latino populations- not evidence of anything but something to keep in mind when having that argument.

And good point by Edward Harrison that latinos and blacks are not mutually exclusive.

16 Steve Sailer December 18, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Crime rates are one of the types of data where the federal government doesn’t break out Hispanics as a separate category, typically lumping Hispanics in with whites. You can, however, come up with national Hispanic crime rates by aggregating state level imprisonment rates, which typically do track ethnicity.
The “Color of Crime 2005” found the following imprisonment ratios versus non-Hispanic Whites:

Asian-American = 0.22
Non-Hispanic White: = 1.0
American Indians ~ 2.0
Pacific Islanders ~ 2.0
Hispanics = 2.9
Blacks = 7.2

(In case you are wondering, the federal National Crime Victimization Survey reports ethnic breakdowns of offenders very similar to the ethnic breakdowns of imprisonment rates, so bias is not a major factor. Moreover, it’s not just drug laws — rates for, say, embezzlement are quite a bit higher among blacks, even though blacks are less likely to have bookkeeper jobs.)

Black crime is so large in absolute terms (about 52% of all homicides since 1976 when the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics began tracking homicide offending by race) that the Hispanic crime rate isn’t that much above the national average, which is about 2.02 times the NH White average, versus 2.9 times higher for Hispanics. Immigration of Hispanics of course raises the national crime rate, but it can lower it in specific cities by driving out blacks.

This has been going on in the media capitals of New York City (where the African-American population has been falling since 1979) and Washington D.C. (where the white share of the population grew from 28% to 33% in this decade) for years, making them safer for influential white people. That explains a lot about why illegal immigration is so much more popular with media elites than with the rest of the public. The African-Americans displaced by immigrants from elite cities don’t vanish, of course. They just move to places like Baltimore, but Tyler and other people who write for the New York Times don’t live in Baltimore, so it’s all good.

17 Steve Sailer December 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm

The implication of studies showing much higher crime rates for Hispanics born in the U.S. than for Hispanic immigrants is dire: they suggest that we are in for a world of hurt down the road as the sons of recent illegal immigrants, who arrived too old and too diligent to join street gangs, grow up on the mean streets of America.

My general impression is that illegal immigrants who arrive in America as adults mostly commit crimes only under the influence of alcohol, or fraud (especially mortgage fraud, as we are now realizing in looking at the data from the mortgage meltdown). Their sons, however, are quite likely to be recruited into street gangs at an early age, with dire implications.

18 Steve Sailer December 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm

It’s worth turning to America’s leading expert on crime, political scientist James Q. Wilson, author of Thinking About Crime. Wilson contributed a chapter to Beyond the Color Line: New Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity in America, a 2002 book edited by the Thernstroms. In it, he wrote:

“A central problem—perhaps the central problem—in improving the relationship between white and black Americans is the difference in racial crime rates. No matter how innocent or guilty a stranger may be, he carries with him in public the burdens or benefits of his group identity…

“Estimating the crime rates of racial groups is, of course, difficult because we only know the arrest rate. If police are more (or less) likely to arrest a criminal of a given race, the arrest rate will overstate (or understate) the true crime rate. To examine this problem, researchers have compared the rate at which criminal victims report (in the National Crime Victimization Survey, or NCVS) the racial identity of whoever robbed or assaulted them with the rate at which the police arrest robbers or assaulters of different races. Regardless of whether the victim is black or white, there are no significant differences between victim reports and police arrests. This suggests that, though racism may exist in policing (as in all other aspects of American life), racism cannot explain the overall black arrest rate. The arrest rate, thus, is a reasonably good proxy for the crime rate.

“Black men commit murders at a rate about eight times greater than that for white men. This disparity is not new; it has existed for well over a century. When historian Roger Lane studied murder rates in Philadelphia, he found that since 1839 the black rate has been much higher than the white rate. This gap existed long before the invention of television, the wide distribution of hand guns, or access to dangerous drugs (except for alcohol).

“America is a violent nation. The estimated homicide rate in this country, excluding all those committed by blacks, is over three times higher than the homicide rate for the other six major industrial nations. But whatever causes white Americans to kill other people, it causes black Americans to kill others at a much higher rate.

“Of course the average African American male is not likely to kill anybody. During the 1980s and early 1990s, fewer than one out of every 2,000 black men would kill a person in any year, and most of their victims were other blacks. Though for young black men homicide is the leading cause of death, the chances of the average white person’s being killed by a black are very small. But the chances of being hit by lightning are also very small, and yet we leave high ground during a thunderstorm. However low the absolute risk, the relative risk—relative, that is, to the chances of being killed by a white—is high, and this fact changes everything.

“When whites walk down the street, they are more nervous when they encounter a black man than when they encounter a white one. When blacks walk down the street, they are more likely than whites to be stopped and questioned by a police officer…

“The differences in the racial rates for property crimes, though smaller than those for violent offenses, are still substantial. The estimated rate at which black men commit burglary is three times higher than it is for white men; for rape, it is five times higher. The difference between blacks and whites with respect to crime, and especially violent crime, has, I think, done more to impede racial amity than any other factor. Pure racism—that is, a visceral dislike of another person because of his skin color—has always existed. It is less common today than it once was, but it persists and no doubt explains part of our racial standoff. But pure racism once stigmatized other racial minorities who have today largely overcome that burden. When I grew up in California, the Chinese and Japanese were not only physically distinctive, but they were also viewed with deep suspicion by whites. For many decades, Chinese testimony was not accepted in California courts, an Alien Land Law discouraged Asian land purchases, the Chinese Exclusion Act (not repealed until 1943) prevented Chinese immigration, and a Gentlemen’s Agreement, signed in 1907, required Japan to cut back sharply on passports issued to Japanese who wished to emigrate to California. When World War II began, the Japanese were sent to relocation camps at great personal cost to them. Yet today Californians of Asian ancestry are viewed by Caucasians with comfort and even pride. In spite of their distinctive physical features, no one crosses the street to avoid a Chinese or Japanese youth. One obvious reason is that they have remarkably low crime rates.

“The black murder rate, though it is much higher than the rate for whites or Asians, does not always change in the same way as the white rate. Between 1976 and 1991, the murder arrest rate for black males aged twenty- five and older fell dramatically even though the murder arrest rate for the nation as a whole did not change at all. Apparently, adult black men were becoming less violent. But in some years, such as 1965 to the early 1970s, the black murder rate increased much faster than the white rate. By the late 1960s the black rate was over eighteen times higher than the white one. Then, beginning around 1975, the black rate declined while the white rate continued to increase, so that the ratio of black arrests to white arrests fell to around six to one. From 1980 until the present, the rate at which adult blacks and whites are arrested for murder dropped more or less steadily. By contrast, the rate at which black and white juveniles are arrested for murder increased sharply from 1985 to the early 1990s, with the white rate almost doubling and the black rate more than tripling. Starting in the mid- 1990s, the juvenile rate fell again, almost down to the level it was at in 1985.

“In short, though the gap sometimes widens and sometimes narrows, white and black homicide rates tend to remain different.”

19 Steve Sailer December 18, 2008 at 3:07 pm

“This list is reaffirmation that I want to relocate to San Diego for awhile.”

Well, there is the problem of the California economy …

See, something that Tyler has completely shied away from mentioning in recent months is the high correlation between Hispanics and mortgage defaults. The great Mortgage meltdown basically happened in just four states — what Wall Street called “the Sand States” — California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida. As of August, those four states accounted for 50% of all foreclosures in America, and, due to the much higher home prices in California, a large majority of defaulted mortgage dollars. In other words, the Sand States set off the global collapse.

It was the policy of the Bush Administration, stated at the October 15, 2002 White House Conference on Minority Homeownership and many other venues, to drive up the number of minority homeowners by 5.5 million households by 2010. (Karl Rove’s underlying political goal was to bring Hispanics into the Republican Party by turning them into conservative homeowners through easy credit). The primary policy advocated by President Bush in his speeches was an attack on down payments for home purchases. Thus, the percentage of first time home buyers in California who put zero money down increased from under 7% in the Clinton years to 41% in 2006.

Total mortgage dollars for home purchases going to Hispanics increased an incredible 691% from 1999 to 2006, compared to 397% for blacks, only 218% for the fast-growing but more prudent Asian population, and about 100% for whites. Minorities accounted for half of all subprime dollars borrowed in 2004-2007, according to the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act database.

20 Steve Sailer December 18, 2008 at 3:22 pm

A simple reality check on Tyler’s implication is to look at crime rates _within_ cities. For example, in the huge San Fernando Valley (population close to 2 million), the homicide rate per capita in the majority Hispanic northern 3/4ths of the Valley is about an order of magnitude higher than in the mostly non-Hispanic southern 1/4th of the Valley.

In the northern Valley, murders are committed for the usual depressing reasons (e.g., two teens arguing over who has tagging rights to an alley), while the handful of murders near the Hollywood Hills tend to be Tarantinoesque: half-brilliant criminal schemes, mostly involving gangsters from the ex-Soviet Union or Middle East, that somehow go terribly wrong and end in a bloodbath. You know, the kind of thing the Coen Bros. would make a movie about.

21 Jason Shafrin December 18, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Do Latino’s make a city safer? I doubt it. Safer cities are likely also ones that have faster economic growth. If Latino’s are the most mobile ethnic group–assuming that there are more new immigrants to the U.S. among the Latino population–then they will be the first group to sort to these faster growing areas. Thus, higher economic growth likely drives down crime and attracts Latinos. I would bet that a high percentage of Latinos in a city has little causal effect on crime.

22 Steve Sailer December 18, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Matt says:

“Oddly enough, I live in DC in an area where for about 3 blocks to either side of me the population approaches majority-minority status because of recent Hispanic immigrants and over the last decade or so crime has dropped off precipitously.”


Immigration by Hispanics and by African immigrants is “economically cleansing” Washington D.C. of African-Americans, whose share of the city’s population is rapidly dropping. This exodus of African-Americans makes larger parts of the city safer, thus making D.C. one of the very rare cities in America with a growing non-Hispanic white share of the population (up from 28% in 2000 to 33% in 2007). Thus from the point of view of white journalists and think-tankers and Congressional aides living in D.C., immigration is helping solve their biggest worry: being victimized by African-American criminals.

So, forget all those nativist yahoo racists in flyover country complaining about illegal immigration. In D.C. (and in Manhattan), immigration is wonderful for us white elites because it drives out African-Americans and replaces them with a less surly servile caste of immigrants. Where do the African-Americans go? Who cares, as long as it’s far away from us in D.C. and NYC. (Of course, we can’t come out and _mention_ in public that we love immigration because it drives African Americans away from us, so we just denounce anybody skeptical of immigration as a “racist.”)

23 鬼老 December 18, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Robert Wenzel seems to display great ignorance of sub-Saharan African issues with this comment:

As for blacks, I don’t think violent crime is a black thing as much as it is blacks reared in the U.S. since LBJ’s Great Society. He created the lack of opportunities, outside of crime, for this group.

24 Steve Sailer December 18, 2008 at 5:27 pm

The really weird thing is that everybody who proclaims the politically correct party line about race and crime in public intuitively knows and personally acts upon these unmentionable statistical facts in their personal lives.

For example, in LA, much of the real estate excitement in recent decades has been over which decayed Hispanic neighborhood near downtown will next be invaded by enough white gay male gentrifiers to drive down the violent crime rate enough for white women to safely move in and eventually have enough white children to make the local public elementary school acceptable to more white families. Fortunes are made by getting in on this process at just the right moment. And yet 90+% of these LA whites (typically, lower level figures in the entertainment industry) who search constantly for evidence that Hispanics are being driven out of a neighborhood by whites are liberal Democrats who are aghast when anybody is so crass as to spell out the racial logic of their obsession.

25 Steve Sailer December 18, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Tyler is masochistically bringing this up again because he has a guilty conscience over all the cheerleading for Hispanic illegal immigration that he, Alex, Bryan Caplan, and others at George Mason did during the Housing Bubble, which, we can now see, was in large measure a Hispanic Housing Bubble based on the politically correct assumption, shared by the George Mason libertarians, Wall Street, George Bush, the Democratic Party and all of the Great and the Good, that California’s Latinos could either afford to pay off their gigantic mortgages or unload their houses on even Greater Fools who would pay even more money to live amidst a lot of Latinos.

26 Omri December 19, 2008 at 12:57 am

There is also the Jane Jacobs theory. Mexicans are more likely to provide the eyes-on-the-street effect when they move en masse to a neighborhood (and also to disregard suburban America’s notions of how one should not earn one’s bread in the same place one eats it). And that makes it harder to be up to no good in their vicinity.

27 Joen December 19, 2008 at 11:47 am

I’m Latino and I live in Amherst, NY (2nd safest), I’m glad to help reduce crime in my community.

28 Barkley Rosser December 20, 2008 at 5:51 pm


Latino immigrants have been more the victims of the bubble than its drivers. Again, stupid correlations. The bubble was driven by the high income neighborhoods in NV, CA, FL, and other states you note with lots of Hispanics. The Hispanics were the suckers who were sold houses near the peak with subprimes. Suckers, not drivers.

Oh, and it is Prince George’s County, MD, where most of the African-Americans leaving Washington go, not to Baltimore.

29 anon December 27, 2008 at 3:59 pm

@Scholar in Training

If you are going to comment on a city that you ostensibly know something about, please at least get the names right. It’s Mount Pleasant, not Pleasant Valley.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: