Has Falling Crime Invited Gentrification?
41 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 1, 2017
Over the past two decades, crime has fallen dramatically in cities in the United States. We explore whether, in the face of falling central city crime rates, households with more resources and options were more likely to move into central cities overall and more particularly into low income and/or majority minority central city neighborhoods. We use confidential, geocoded versions of the 1990 and 2000 Decennial Census and the 2010, 2011, and 2012 American Community Survey to track moves to different neighborhoods in 244 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) and their largest central cities. Our dataset includes over four million household moves across the three time periods. We focus on three household types typically considered gentrifiers: high-income, college-educated, and white households. We find that declines in city crime are associated with increases in the probability that high income and college-educated households choose to move into central city neighborhoods, including low-income and majority minority central city neighborhoods. Moreover, we find little evidence that households with lower incomes and without college degrees are more likely to move to cities when violent crime falls. These results hold during the 1990s as well as the 2000s and for the 100 largest metropolitan areas, where crime declines were greatest. There is weaker evidence that white households are disproportionately drawn to cities as crime falls in the 100 largest metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2010.
Keywords: crime, gentrification, neighborhood choice
JEL Classification: R23, R21, R11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation