Big Cities Are Safer Than Rural Counties

tractor fallen overBack in the early 1990s, when i lived in
the East Village, I would enjoy whiling away nights at the Loisaida bar, Safety in
Numbers. The motivating idea behind the bar’s name was that
aspiring black-clad hipsters like me were supposed to be safer in
that dangerous neighborhood when traveling in packs.

I love big cities the way that a kid who grew up on an
Appalachian dairy farm can only do – with fierce devotion. A new
study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine that has taken
its title from my favorite poetry slam venue, “Safety
in Numbers: Are Major Cities the Safest Places in the United
” compares injury death rates between crowded big cities
and rural solitude. Using data from 1999 to 2006, it turns out that
with respect to dying from injuries people are much safer in Times
Square than they are riding the range. The study reports:

The overall injury death rate increased with increasing
rurality, and a significant difference between the injury death
rate in the most rural compared with the most urban counties was
identified (difference of 24.0 per 100,000 to 31.6 per

Despite public perception to the contrary, when all types of
injuries are considered together, rural areas, not urban, bear a
disproportionate amount of injury-related mortality risk in the
United States. Although variability among urban areas clearly
exists, when urban areas were considered as a group, risk of
serious injury resulting in death was approximately 20% lower than
in the most rural areas of the country. Although our findings
support the belief that homicide rates and risk of homicide are
significantly higher in urban areas compared with rural, we
demonstrate that the magnitude of homicide-related deaths, even in
urban areas, is outweighed by the magnitude of unintentional injury
deaths, particularly those resulting from motor vehicles. In fact,
the rate of unintentional injury death is more than 15 times that
of homicide among the entire population, with the risk resting
heavily in rural areas such that the risk of unintentional injury
death is 40% higher in the most rural counties compared with the
most urban.

I will note that the homicide rate in New York City has fallen
80 percent
since the 1990s, and in fact there were only 418
murders in 2012, the lowest total since record keeping began in the
1960s. The Big Apple is now practically an adult Disney World.

from Hit & Run

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