July 26, 2004


My German co-worker has insisted on several occasions that my American co-worker and I are much better off living in Europe than in the US because in Europe we're away from all the crime. Nevermind that my co-worker hails from Phoenix and I from central Illinois and that we've managed to steer pretty clear of crime. Nevermind that her view is skewed because her experience in the US is from living in Detroit. And nevermind that "the US is full of crime" is another one of those lore statements that people toss around. In fact, England is pretty much screwed. (If you just want the money quote, head to Rishon Rishon; the full set of articles can be found at Steyn Online.) And nevermind that the most dangerous place I've ever lived was my neighborhood in France, where kids threatened to rape us in the phone booths and public masturbation was the norm. Creepy stuff.

Posted by Sarah at July 26, 2004 05:17 PM

On average there is more crime in the US than in Europe. Finland, the UK, and Denmark have more crime than the US, but all the other countries have lower crime stats; France (62.67 crimes per 1000 people) and Germany (76.02 crimes per 1000 people) have less crime than the US (81.55 crimes per 1000 people).

Rapes: US higher than any European country
Assaults: US higher than any European country
Car thefts: 5 european countries before the US
Murders: Ex-soviet countries before the US, then a gap, then the western European countries.
Burglaries: US does pretty good, 5 western european countries go before it.
(all stats per capita)

So, Germany and France have less crime than the US by any measure. The UK has more crime overall, but less of the more serious offences.

Still, 'all the crime' in such a large and diverse country is indeed a pretty vacuous statement.


Posted by: Sander at July 26, 2004 06:11 PM

What a crock. I've felt much more in danger in many European cities (especially in S. Italy) than most American ones. Also, what statistics like the one above always neglect to tell you is the info dealing with neighborhoods, etc. And yes, heh, Detroit would certainly skew things.

I live, as you know, on the South Side of Chicago--so spare me the "pampered" line. Yet I also grew up in an area where people to this day leave their cars unlocked with the keys in the seats...with the windows rolled down. Few places in Europe can really claim that.

Posted by: Jeremiah at July 26, 2004 06:55 PM

Yes, Jeremiah, that's what I was trying to say. Consider the reversal of your statement:

I've felt much more in danger in many American cities (especially Detroit or LA) than most European ones.
Both can be 100% true, since crime in the subset of low-crime cities is always lower than crime in most cities. It's true that some cities in Europe have more crime than some cities in the US, it's also true that some cities in the US have more crime than some cities in Europe. However, on average, there is more crime in the US. Simple as that.

Posted by: Sander at July 26, 2004 07:02 PM

It's kind of apples and oranges. Europe is full of countries with only one "primate" city (a term i remember from an old urban geography course i took in undergrad) France has Paris, Spain has Madrid. (Admittedly, Germany has several major cities) So the better comparison would be between the major cities in the US vs. Europe's. Of course France would have lower crime, there's only one major city there. Anecdotally, i was very paranoid of petty crime when i visited Lisbon and Madrid two years ago, due to the large number of people hanging out in the public squares looking for suckers and tourists.

Posted by: annika at July 26, 2004 09:11 PM


Spain has 2 multimillion cities (Madrid and Barcelona)
France has 1 (Paris)
Britain has 1 (London, although Birmingham is near a million)
Germany has 3 (Berlin, Hamburg and München)
The US has 9.

If you divide number of multimillion cities by the total population there doesn't seem to be a correlation between population distribution and crime.

(Source: CityPopulation)

Posted by: Sander at July 27, 2004 01:31 AM

But the city I lived in in France wasn't Paris, it was Angers, population 140,000, which is just a bit bigger than Peoria, IL...

Posted by: Sarah at July 27, 2004 02:58 PM

Yea, living in/near Detroit will skew anybodys perception of crime.

I live in a Detroit suburb (all my life) and I carry those thoughts everywhere we go, thinking any big city will be just as bad but we haven't gone to any big city and had any problems. We have had problems going into Detroit for events. I will not go into the city unless I know I will be out before dusk.

Haven't seen statistics for after April, but January through April there was the equivalant of 1 murder per day.

Posted by: Machelle at July 27, 2004 03:01 PM

I live in Birmingham Uk and I felt much safer walking around Chicago on a recent trip than I do here.

John, Birmingham, Uk.

Posted by: John Hammond at August 9, 2005 03:42 AM