William Lucy of the University of Virginia has written extensively on the question of whether outer suburbs are safer than cities or inner suburbs; he argues, based on traffic fatality data, that outer suburbs are certainly less safe than inner suburbs, and maybe even less safe than cities. (1)
However, Lucy’s analysis is not particularly fine-grained: it analyzes data county-by-county, rather than town-by-town. What’s wrong with this? Often, suburban cities within a county are quite diverse: some share the characteristics of inner suburbs (e.g. some public transit) while others look more like exurbs. So I wondered whether there is any significant 'safety gap" between inner and outer suburbs.
After the Census Bureau released population estimates showing that core counties were (at least in some metro areas) growing faster than exurban counties, the media was full of headlines about this alleged trend. An extreme example came from the Washington Post: "An end to America's exurbia?" (1)