In The Atlantic, Patrick Sharkey writes about the causes of crime; “By zooming out and looking at the big picture, the question of what causes violence becomes quite answerable.”
November 23, 2022
Patrick Sharkey is the William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. He is the author, most recently, of Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence.
In the decades during and after the Great Migration of Black Americans out of the rural South, federal dollars built our interstate highway system, insured home mortgages, and subsidized a large-scale movement of white people and other high-income segments of the population out of central cities. You needed money to buy a car in order to move to a house in the suburbs and commute into the city. And in many new housing developments, you needed to be white to be eligible to purchase a home or get a loan. New suburbs and exurbs outside Chicago and St. Louis quickly established zoning codes that would not allow for apartments or other forms of affordable housing to be built, meaning local property taxes would fund services only for relatively well-off residents.