This paper analyzes the link between rising city crime rates and urban flight. Each additional reported crime is associated with a roughly one-person decline in city population. Almost all of the crime-related population decline is attributable to increased out-migration rather than a decrease in new arrivals. Households that leave the city because of crime are much more likely to remain within the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA) than those that leave the city for other reasons. Migration decisions of highly educated households and those with children are particularly responsive to changes in crime. Causality appears to run from rising crime rates to city depopulation.
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© 1999 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology