Is Crime Higher in small Than large cities? Free Essay


Crime is one of the biggest challenge confronting both small and large cities. A large number of research argues that residents of large cities perceive crime to be higher than residents in small cities. It is considered that crime rates are more in large cities that are densely populated than in small cities with a small population. Moreover, crime in large cities is outstanding as it takes into consideration police per capita expenditures as well as victim precaution actions such as the installation of security alarm systems that are prevalent in large cities. This study examines whether residents of small cities are more likely to view crime as being higher than residents from a larger city.


A number of theories have been used on the question of why residents of large cities experience more crime than residence in small cities. Large cities are believed to be portrayed by anonymity (Hansen, 2003). Men tend to be irresponsible to strangers. The city’s anonymity enables a criminal to perpetuate an offense without being afraid of being noticed. Anonymity is believed to be the facilitating factor to juvenile crime. While for the small city juvenile offender is probable to be reported to his parents by nearby adults. Nonetheless, in the large city’s anonymity, it is likely that the nearby adults not recognize the delinquent hence will not end up reporting the inappropriate conduct to his parents. Therefore, social regulation in large cities is difficult.

Unavailability of social control leads to social disorganization.  Large-scale cities are characterized by social disorganization such as murder, drug abuse, divorce and other kinds of deviance activities (Mckeown, 1949). In the deviant setting of the large city, enforcement of moral regulation is failed due to lack of effective enforcement. Therefore, lack of social regulation leads to social disorganization and criminal activities. Moreover, forms of social disorganization such as broken homes lead to crime as evidence shows the association between homes and delinquency.

The large population in cities enables criminals to easily find people with similar criminal intentions to team up in carrying out criminal activities (“Social problems,” 2016). However, small cities have a small population hence resulting in a small number of criminals or people living in poverty in order to enhance crime influence of criminal sub-groups and ghettos to erupt. Large cities have more resources that provide great prospects for a crime such as several cars to steal, a lot of banks for robbing and many other more opportunities and as well have an easy getaway exit. In a small city, only a few opportunities for criminal intents are available and it does not have a proper getaway exit for criminals.

Moreover, some theories lay emphasis on “soul-destroying” manifestation of large cities. In their argument, these theorists assert that the overcrowded, lack of a sense of community is probably to lead to anti-social behaviors (Mckeown, 1949). Several policy makers have gotten into a conclusion from these theories that to effectively minimize crime is through decentralizing the population of that area. Nevertheless, the implication that crime rates are possible to be minimized by decreasing the population growth has been disregarded.

Literature review

The correlation between crime rate and city size is not a new inference. Several studies discussing crime rate challenges that confront both large and small cities residents have been documented appropriately. Empirical evidence from various studies in countries indicates that the larger the city, the high the rate of crime. A study by Braithwaite (1975) indicates that the rate of juvenile rate grows with the size of the city. However, Cullen and Levitt (1999) arrived the same conclusion using a self-report delinquency measurement.

Information on both juvenile and adult crime is minimal, albeit Howell, Perry, and Vile (2004) shows that in general rates of adult crime are higher in large cities like Chicago than in small cities like New Orleans in the United States and Callanan (2012) has indicated that residents in large cities experience more delinquency than those in small cities. Essentially, the size of the city is associated with the rate of crime. Because cities grow as a result of population growth, therefore the increase in crime rate worldwide is possible to be explained by the population growth.

Since there is a connection between crime rates and the size of the city, will we be justified if we conclude that decrease population growth leads to a decreased rate of crime escalation? Making this implication has no problem with regards to the causative agent since it is vague implication to claim that high crime rate in cities results in having a big population. Nevertheless, there is a possibility that the third variable implies logical fallacies to the relationship between the rate of crime and the size of the city. There are six possible sources of logical fallacies identified are taken into consideration below.

It is suggested that large cities have a many police per head in a population hence the numerous activities of the police are reflected by the high rate of crimes in large cities. A study by Glaeser (1996) found that 132 United States cities with significantly over 100,000 in 1980 showing interrelation between city size the number of police per 10,000 people of the population. Although by 1994, the interrelation was entirely over as the size of the city did no longer determined the number of police allocated for the population. An even number of police were distributed to both small cities and large cities regardless of the city size.

Small cities are found to be under-reporting crimes to the police. This gives an indication that small city residents experience fewer crimes compared to large cities. Sacco (1982) study the empirical evidence in support of the hypothesis is missing. Nonetheless, the hypothesis is incredible for the crime. It hardly happens that crimes such as homicide or theft occur in the small cities and goes without being reported to the police. In reality, people value their assets and therefore in case of any theft, they report to the police in both large and small cities. To demonstrate the difference of crime reporting in terms of city size, the explanation would have to be done astronomically giving an overview of the trend and patterns of reporting of crimes. For instance, in cases involving homicide, 100% success rate of reporting to the police would have to be achieved for the largest cities and 20% in the smallest city.

McKeown (1949) in his study, found large cities to be having numerous opportunities for survival than small cities which attracts a lot of minority groups like the negroes and foreign-born immigrants. These groups were in large number in a city are found to cause crime problems. McKeown (1949) found that between 1939 and 1940, large cities had a high number of negroes and foreign-born migrants who settled and occupied the city. Upon 1930, data for almost all sorts of crimes recorded indicated that cities with a high population of foreign residents; the Negros and foreign-born migrants recorded the highest crime rate. Nonetheless, a confusion occurred with 1940 data obtained. Albeit a certain higher percentage of the Negros correlations with crime rates still existed, the interrelationship of most foreign-born migrants had vanished.

According to Ganley (2016) study, he found out that large cities are attractive to criminals from small cities and rural areas. He noted that between1961 to 1969 a decline of 27% in the rate of homicides in small cities. The issue with this explanation is that it only relates to adult crimes. It fails to incorporate a positive the relationship between the extent of juvenile delinquency rates and size of the city. Juveniles, of course, are young and under parents or guardians control and therefore cannot choose on where to live, therefore the selective effect would fail. For adults, it will not be plausible several criminals in small cities and rural areas would decide to move to larger cities and make their residence preferences based on opportunities for crime rather than due to job opportunities.

Moreover, large cities are depicted to attract the younger generation. According to Cook and Watson (2013) study, young boys and girls are the most categories of people most likely to be engaged in criminal activities. While Cook and Watson did not find a correlation between sex distribution and the size of the city, smaller cities tended to have a larger number of young people between the age of 15 to 35 years. If both small and larger cities had the same number of young people, offense rate would be higher in large cities hence widening city size differences in the crime rate. This indicates that age distribution plays a role in determining crime rate. This supports the hypothesis in that reducing a population would give a more impact in minimizing crime rather than what would be anticipated based on the direct statistical correlation between crime rate and the size of the city.

It is determined that poor people have a tendency of congregating in large cities. Hansen (2003) reports that the poor tend to migrate and congregate in large cities in search of job opportunities. This hypothesis is very significant since poverty is constant variable identified to be correlated with crime. The empirical studies have identified that crime rate for the poor is about twenty times than the middle-class crime rate.


            This study has tried to give an explanation on the correlation between crime rates and city size. From the literature review, it is evident all the studies carried out implies that residents in large cities tend to view crime to be higher than the small cities residents. Poverty has been determined to be the most consistent variable is determined to be correlated with crime. The hypothesis of has been satisfied in that reducing a population would give a more impact in minimizing crime rather than what would be anticipated based on a direct statistical correlation between crime rate and the size of the city.

The hypothesis that is rejected in this study is the idea that criminal from small cities or rural areas tends to move in groups into large cities and congregate in the larger city, hence making the difference in crime rates between large cities and small cities.  Theories used in the previous studies have proven to be significant in that the eventually facilitate the development of policies aiming to reduce the population growth in cities which also reduce, resident’s mobility, city size, the population of unwanted children and the size of families. Because the latter variable has a strong correlation with crime, a decreased population growth will drastically minimize crime rate in both small and large cities.

The studies have strongly defended their implications with appropriate empirical data. Generally, we come to a conclusion that poverty and dilapidated conditions due to the congregation of migrants to cities are affirmatively linked to criminality. The conclusion also relates to crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, assault and not white collar crimes. This conclusion is however tentative in nature.

Residents in large cities are therefore prone to crimes than residents in small cities. It has been clearly manifested that in a large city, it is highly populated. Therefore, chances of violence from a potential criminal are high since they are all crowded together in the same area due to congestion. Apart from the correlation between crime and city size, the connection between population and age factor have been associated with criminality. The population has been considered the most significant variable. Since decreasing population results in a decrease in city size and eventually decreasing the crime rate.

Having established the link between crime city size, the subsequent step is to get an understanding of how residents in large cities experience crime more than those of small cities. To what extent of violence is committed in large cities compared to those of small cities and how are does it affect the residents? If policymakers and law enforcers are more reactive to crimes, does this make the population to greatly depend on public or government services? These questions provide a basis for future studies.