The key factor, as it turns out, lies in the growing racial, ethnic, and demographic diversity of our cities and metro areas. Our analysis found that the Hispanic share of the population is negatively associated with urban crime. Crime also fell as the percentage of the population that is non-white and the percentage that is gay increased. And of all the variables in our analysis, the one that is most consistently negatively associated with crime is a place’s percentage of foreign-born residents. . Not only did we find a negative correlation (-.36) between foreign-born share and crime in general, the pattern held across all of the many, various types of crime – from murder and arson to burglary and car theft. The Brookings study also finds evidence of a substantial shift in the connection between foreign-born residents and crime. While foreign-born share was positively associated with crime in 1990 and 2000, that relationship had disappeared by 2008. The foreign-born share of population now shows no relationship to property crime, and a negative relationship to violent crime. The pattern is most pronounced for primary cities and inner-ring suburbs, the Brookings study found, but not for lower-density suburbs and ex-urbs.
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