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Relationship Between Population Density and Crime Rates, CY 1982

NCJ Number
Date Published
32 pages
Data on 1982 crime rates and 1980 population density of Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas (SMSA's) and of cities in the Pacific area (California, Hawaii, Washington, and the Pacific area (California, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon) and the Northeast (Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia) were collected to determine possible relationships.
The data sets consisted of 33 SMSA's and 53 cities in the Pacific area and 50 SMSA's and 65 cities in the Northeast. Analyses of data by Pearson's correlations and simple regression failed to produce consistent results across comparisons. For the Pacific area there was no significant association between violent and property crime rates and SMSA population density; for the Northeast, significant correlations were found for both property and violent crimes. In the Pacific area, no significant association was found between city population density and property crime rates, while violent crime rate and density showed a significant correlation. In the Northeast cities, violent, but not property, crime rates were correlated with population density. Despite significant relationships between population density and crime rates, these occurred at low levels and were not consistent between the geographical regions or population groupings. Thus, while population density may affect crime rates, there may be other factors which exert a stronger influence on crime patterns. Tabular data, appendixes, and 4 references are provided.


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