Greening cities for reducing crime rates

Posted on October 20, 2021

Having access to nature, and access to green spaces has multiple benefits. A recent multi-author study indicates that violent crime reduces when a city becomes greener, i.e., has more open spaces (parks, nature reserves, green belts, etc.).

The author team, led by Michigan State University's Jonnell C. Sanciangco, investigated data on murder and non-negligent manslaughter from 290 American cities over a 30-year period. These crime statistics were evaluated in conjunction with factors known to impact crime (including population density, level of education, level of employment, level of poverty, percentage of single-mother households, and temperatures), as well as the level of greenness of the cities (measured using the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) over the investigated time period.

One of the authors of the study is Professor Breetzke from our department. Professor Breetzke is an expert in crime analyses using geospatial methods. The full article can be accessed at:

Sanciangco, J. C., Breetzke, G. D., Lin, Z., Wang, Y., Clevenger, K. A., and Pearson, A. L. (2021). The Relationship Between City “Greenness” and Homicide in the US: Evidence Over a 30-Year Period. Environment and Behavior. Advanced online publication.

Note: This article is based on this article (, which appeared on Psychology Today.

- Author Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology
Published by Christel Hansen

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2022. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences