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john65pennington's avatar

Will Detroit ever recover from the nations city with the highest crime rate?

Asked by john65pennington (29080 points ) October 5th, 2011

Is this the reason the people living in Detroit and Illinois are leaving their state and heading south? Detroit’s population is depleting at a record pace. Homicides there, are the highest in the United States.
Question: what are the reasons for the high crime rate in Detroit and will Detroit ever become a ghost town?

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3 Answers

DominicX's avatar

Michigan is one of the few states whose population is declining over the years. The main issue with cites in Michigan, such as Detroit, and many cities of the “iron belt” is that these places faced economic decline after the decline of manufacturing in the United States; all these cities were centered around manufacturing (in the case of Detroit, automobiles) and once that faded away, these places suffered economic decline and it’s a positive feedback loop that seems to just get worse and worse. Places with economic problems tend to have higher crime rates…and people are leaving for more “prosperous” places and leaving behind the lower tier and the criminals…I don’t see improvement any time soon.

tedd's avatar

Detroit’s population decrease has less to do with it’s crime rate, and more to do with it’s fading jobs market.

There was a time when Detroit had nearly 2 million residents, ranking as one of the largest cities in the US (2 million would be good for 4th place today, behind Chicago with roughly 2.7 million). The problem is that most of the economy in Detroit, Michigan, and the entire region… was based around manufacturing. In particular the automotive manufacturing industry (but also a variety of other industries).

Over the last 50 years those jobs (seen as manual labor, low education jobs) have been shipped overseas, or replaced by machines, or etc, etc. The jobs dried up in Detroit, and the population started leaving… Those that couldn’t leave were desperate cuz they didn’t have jobs, and were more prone to crime. What you eventually saw was an ever-increasing crime rate in Detroit, as the population became more and more desperate.

Detroit could very easily recover from this if they can get a steady amount of jobs to match their population. Look at a city like Pittsburgh. It suffered a similar (albeit much smaller) population/crime scenario. Pittsburgh at it’s peak had around 700k people. When the steel industry sent jobs overseas the city saw a spike in crime and a dwindling population. Today though, the city has stabilized. It sits at around 300k people, and has a very healthy economy based around various industries, and the crime has dropped significantly.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with those above who say Detroit’s biggest problem was the downhill slide of the auto industry. I tell my friends that probably the best thing that happened to Michigan was the rest of the country fell into economic hard times also. Of course that is said with some sarcasm, but really, no one gave a damn about the difficult economic climate in MI and Detroit until the whole country started to identify with the troubles. I actually think of the southern cities as being more dangerous in general, not sure how the stats really pan out. I know where I live, Memphis, violent crime rates are really bad, we frequently make the top 3. Same with New Orleans. When I lived in the metro DC area violent crime was really high too, not really a southern city I guess. And, Miami certainly has its bad parts.

It’s really a shame about Detroit. Many of the poorest most dangerous areas are near the water, could be really nice real estate if the area was rejuvenated. Many of the suburbs are beautiful. There is quite a bit of culture and arts in the area. Good museums not far away. A major hub airport. Excellent universities in the state. Really a shame.

The tricky part of developers coming in to change the area, if industry ever did come back strong in the Detroit area, is then the poor might get displaced. As far as I know any efforts to revitalize Detroit in the past, even when things were much better economically has fallen kind of flat.

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