Violent crime has become less common in the United States in recent years. There were slightly more than 1.1 million reported incidents in 2014, or 366 incidences per 100,000 residents, a 9.4% decrease from the 2010 rate of 404 violent crimes for every 100,000 Americans. While the nation is becoming safer, many states have a higher violent crime rate than the national average rate, with the 10 most dangerous states reporting a rate of at least 445 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
Based on violent crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Report, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states with the highest violent crime rates. Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Of the 50 states, Alaska is the most dangerous, with 636 reported violent crimes for every 100,000 residents.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St. in December, John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, explained that “the number one predictor of crime is dense areas of disconnected young men.” All of the 10 most dangerous states have major cities where the violent crime rate is more than double the national average rate. Of the 99 large cities in the 10 most dangerous states, 10 have violent crime rates over 1,000 incidents per 100,000 people.
While it is difficult to identify the root causes of violent behavior, violence is often conducted in similar contexts, and areas with especially high violent crime rates frequently share social and economic characteristics. A well-educated population, for example, tends to be more prosperous and less violent. In eight of the 10 most dangerous states, education attainment rates are below the national average.
“Places with high educational attainment and relatively higher incomes have more opportunities for citizens, so the choice to commit crime becomes less appealing,” Roman said.
Not surprisingly, higher poverty rates tend to accompany lower educational attainment in America’s most dangerous states. The poverty rate in six of the 10 most violent states exceeds the national poverty rate of 15.5%.
Aggravated assault is the principal driver of violent crime. These crimes are disproportionately common in America’s most dangerous states. The aggravated assault rate exceeds the national rate of 233 incidents per 100,000 Americans in all of the 10 most dangerous states. Also, in all 10 states, the aggravated assault rate comprises more than half of the overall violent crime rate.
To identify the most dangerous states in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed violent crime rates from the FBI’s 2014 Uniform Crime Report. Property crime rates also came from the FBI’s report. The data are broken into eight types of crime. Violent crime includes murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Property crime includes burglary, arson, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. In addition to crime data, we also reviewed median household income, poverty rates, and educational attainment rates from the 2014 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). Crime and socioeconomic data for cities with populations of at least 50,000 people also came from the FBI and ACS.
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