What makes a sketchy neighborhood?

I had a person once talk about how where I lived was a sketchy neighborhood. She said that after pointing out the public housing next to where I lived. What makes a sketchy neighborhood?

I should point out that the person was a racial minority, and I am white and live in a mixed neighborhood. To her, almost the entire city where I live she said was too rough to live in. Interesting comment that I want to analyze further with you.

According to this study, Income inequality is the main determining factor for crime on a national level. Since the 60’s crime has been steadily going down, while income equality has been increasing. The US is 3rd in income inequality and also has one of the highest crime rates. Researchers think there is a connection.

In fact if you look at the US Crime Statistics by Race (numbers below are from 2011) you will find an interesting pattern. I am going to bold where the White totals are higher than the black totals for crime. Out of 7 categories of crime, white people have higher totals than any other group except for murder and Robbery. Are you really safer by living by “white people” in a “good neighborhood?”

Type of Offense Total White Black American Indian Asian Pacific 
Murder 8,341 4,000 4,149 105 87
Rape 14,611 9,504 4,811 170 126
Robbery 82,436 35,443 45,827 619 547
Aggravated Assault 305,220 194,981 102,597 4,540 3,102
Burglary 227,899 151,934 72,244 2,095 1,626
Fraud 127,664 84,919 40,621 1,140 984
Larceny – theft 977,743 670,768 281,197 15,122 10,656

The answer is clearly no. You are safer in a mixed neighborhood by an overwhelming margin. Yes murder and robbery is serious, but it is also far, far less common than the other types of crime you would be exposing yourself too. You run less chance by far of getting murdered than getting in a car accident. For example, according to the link above you run a risk of 1 in 83 in your LIFETIME of a car accident, and a LIFETIME risk of 1 in 210 of being murdered. Anyway you slice the numbers, your risk of problems living in a “bad neighborhood” are minimal compared to the risk most people take every day by driving.

More importantly, sketchy neighborhoods need stable individuals to help improve and bring economic prosperity. Rich neighborhoods may look nice, but they don’t help the middle and lower classes which is what the majority of us are. To me living in mixed neighborhoods is a benefit. Not only do you get more for your money, but you get to be around people who are different from yourself and that is fun too.

It also strikes me a little more than old racist thinking that neighborhoods that are mixed or have “projects” are automatically bad. The US was built by immigrants, and I find it especially troubling when minorities are racist to each other. Rather than have assumptions by sketchy neighborhoods it seems a quick and easy way to dismiss things rather than research the actual crime statistics. I grew up in white majority neighborhoods and there was plenty of crime. So that person who lives in a “safe neighborhood” may find it not so safe when she is statistically more likely to get raped. Raped people tend to commit suicide, so once you factor that in, I bet rape has killed more than straight up murder.