Does living in a diverse community make you safer?

Monique Morris, The Grio | July 7, 2011

Residential integration has long been associated with an improved quality of life for people of color in America. Civil and human rights leaders for over a century have elevated the importance of diversity and inclusion in housing as a core component of advancing the promise of our democracy.

Recent research conducted by Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto has found that almost three years into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, crime rates are falling in American cities.

The study also finds that “the growing racial, ethnic, and demographic diversity of our cities and metro areas” is leading to the downward trend. Florida’s analysis found that the Latino and foreign-born share of the population is negatively associated with urban crime and that crime also fell as the percentage of the population that is non-white increased.

The study found a slight correlation between crime and the share of population that is African-American, but other studies, including a recent report by the Brooking Institution, have found that even that trend is weakening.

“The association between crime and community characteristics — like the proportion of the population that is black, Hispanic, poor, or foreign-born — diminished considerably over time,” notes the study. “The strength of the relationship between the share of black residents and property crime decreased by half between 1990 and 2008, while the association between the share of Hispanic residents and violent crime all but disappeared.”

There are many unexplained factors in this analysis, about both the drop in crime during the most recent national recession and the link between diversity and increases in public safety.  (Read more)