48 Years of Crime in Chicago: A Descriptive Analysis of Serious Crime Trends from 1965 to 2013

Andrew V. Papachristos (2013) 48 Years of Crime in Chicago: A Descriptive Analysis of Serious Crime Trends from 1965 to 2013, ISPS Working Paper, ISPS13-023


Over the past two decades, the United States has experienced an unpredicted drop in crime. Chicago, while often portrayed as a violent city, has seen sustained drops in violent crime and homicide rates during this time, but particularly recently. Using annual crime data, this report briefly describes temporal and spatial trends of major index crime in Chicago from 1965 to 2013. Overall, Chicago—like other U.S. cities—experienced a significant decline in overall crime and violent crime. Present day levels of violent crime are, in fact, at their lowest rates in four decades. Furthermore, nearly all communities experienced declines in crime, although the rates of decline were greater in some communities than others. Over the past three years, for example, all but five communities (out of 77) experienced declines in violent crime. Those areas that experienced increases were and continue to be some of Chicago’s safest areas. While the drop in violent crime is shared between low and high crime areas alike, there remain areas of the city where violent crime rates are unacceptably high. Rates of homicide have also decreased over this period following the overall city-wide pattern, with some unique patterns emerging surrounding the contexts of gang homicide. The objective of this report is to simply document these historical trends and not to assign any casual interpretations of the vanguards of crime rates of this period. Directions for future investigation are also discussed.


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