Exploring the Impact of 9,398 Demolitions on Neighborhood-level Crime in Detroit, Michigan

Authors: Yanqing Xu*, University of Toledo, Matthew Larson, Wayne State University, Leah Ouellet, State Appellate Defender Office, Charles F. Klahm, Wayne State University
Topics: Quantitative Methods, Urban Geography, United States
Keywords: Crime Policy, Demolitions, Neighborhood Crime
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 3:55 PM / 5:35 PM
Room: Wilson B, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The intersection of neighborhood-level processes and crime has received a wealth of attention in the criminological literature over the last century. In line with this tradition, the current study focuses its attention to one of the more recent, and woefully under-explored, policy phenomena embraced by a growing number of cities throughout the United States: demolitions. From 2010 to 2014 alone, the city of Detroit successfully completed a total of 9,398 demolitions, making it the nation’s leader in the demolitions experiment. Focusing specifically on change in crime at the block-group level from 2009 to 2014, we examine the association between demolitions and changes in three crime types (i.e. all crime, violent crime, and drug and property crime) by calling upon a set of publicly available geo-spatial crime and demolition data. We find that demolitions are associated with meaningful reductions in crime across all three crime types, net of controls for structural covariates. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and policy implications of demolitions as a potentially valuable crime reduction strategy for cities.

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