NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Small Towns See Drop In Murder Rates

May 9, 2000

The declining number of murders nationwide since 1991 cannot be fully attributed to the big cities. The Federal Bureau of Investigation's preliminary crime report for 1999, released on Sunday, shows that murders are down dramatically in small cities, towns and rural areas across the country.

  • While murders decreased by 2 percent in cities with populations of more than one million, declines averaging 12 percent occurred in cities with 50,000 to 99,999 populations, and by 11 percent in those with 25,000 to 49,999 people.
  • Residents in towns of 10,000 to 24,999 people witnessed an average decline of 14 percent in 1999 -- compared to no change in 1998.
  • Murders in suburban counties declined 12 percent -- and were down 17 percent in rural areas.
  • For suburban areas in general, the drop was 13 percent, compared to no change the year before -- while the drop was 8 percent in cities outside metropolitan areas.

The study observed that the smaller the community, the bigger the decrease in homicides.

Officials in the smaller communities attributed the decreases to a mix of factors -- including innovative programs to combat crime, the improved economy and longer prison sentences.

Source: Fox Butterfield, "Decline in Murders Reaches Small Towns," New York Times, May 9, 2000.


Browse more articles on Government Issues