Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Crime and Neighborhood Change: Has Falling Crime Invited Gentrification?

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 10:35 AM
Ibis (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Davin Kristopher Reed, Furman Center, Ingrid Gould Ellen, New York University and Keren Horn, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Over the past two decades, crime has fallen dramatically in the United States. Between 1990 and 2012, the national crime rate fell by 44 percent. During this same period, the proportion of lower-income neighborhoods experiencing a gain in economic status increased markedly. Specifically, the share of low-income neighborhoods experiencing gains in income rose from 21 percent in the 1970s and 1980s to 41 percent during the 1990s. Meanwhile, the share of neighborhoods that were racially integrated rose from just under 20 percent in 1990 to over 30 percent in the 2000s. In this analysis we explore whether these phenomena are related. Specifically, we explore whether, in the face of falling central city crime rates, households with more resources and options (i.e., higher income households and white households) are more willing to make pro-integrative moves.  In brief, we find that declines in crime are associated with increases in the share of in-movers to low-income neighborhoods who are high-income, suggesting that reductions in crime may be fueling the process of gentrification. Disaggregating moves by tenure status, we find that homeowners are most sensitive to declines in violent crime, while renters are most sensitive to declines in property crime. In contrast, city crime reductions do not appear to affect the decisions of white households to move into majority black neighborhoods; even when crime rates fall dramatically, virtually no white households choose to move into majority black neighborhoods. However, white households are more willing to move into majority non-black minority neighborhoods when city crime rates fall.