Cities are Safer than Suburbs

Why it's Safer to Live in the City

Now you may see this title and be a bit skeptical, but a new study asserts that this is true. If you don't believe me, check out this article by National Geographic. At first, I was skeptical as well. But when you dive into the facts, this seemingly illogical idea begins to make much more sense.

But haven't we learned for decades that the best way to keep our children safe was to move out to the suburbs? How can cities really be safer?

Fewer Car Accidents: 

There are a number of factors that tip the scales in favor of cities, but by far, the biggest reason that cities are statistically safer is that they provide a lower risk for car accidents. In 2011, over 32,000 Americans died in car accidents. Logically, the more you are in a car, the more likely you are to die in a car accident. Because suburban and rural residents depend on cars for everyday needs, they spend significantly more time in cars, making them much more likely to die in car accidents. If you live in a city and use public transportation, your risk of dying in a car accident drops to near 0. 

Now you may say so what? I'm not worried about car accidents, cities are just simply more dangerous. Its true that cities have more crime per capita, but accidental deaths caused by cars are still real deaths. They must be factored into the equation. Just as a note, city dwellers using public transit are more likely to die in these types of accidents, but the rates and severity of these accidents are much lower than of cars.

Quicker Saves:

This can really mean a variety of things, but it comes down to the idea that if something bad happens to you in a densely populated urban area, you are more likely to get help quickly. This bad thing could be a fire, a shooting, a heart attack or almost anything else. If for example you have a heart attack in New York City, you will be close to a hospital and more likely to survive than if you live in say rural Maine. Response rates for accidents can really mean the difference between life and death. Rural areas tend to have slower response times because emergency services have to cover larger areas and are thus more likely to be far away from where the accident occurs.

Fewer Suicides:

There tend to be higher suicide rates in rural areas compared to urban areas. Suicides tend not to be among the leading causes of death, but they still contribute to the final total. Nobody knows for sure why rates are higher in rural areas, but one possible explanation is isolation. People benefit from social connections and these relationships can help to ward off depression. Being far from others in rural areas may increase depression and suicide rates by default.

I have to say that when I first read this new study I was surprised. In as much as I advocate for living in cities, I was among the majority of Americans who had the misperception that rural areas are safer. Be informed, spread the word.