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Abstract

New urbanist theories of neighborhood safety suggest that urban vibrancy, or the amount of pedestrian activity in an area, may be an important deterrent of crime. This study attempts to examine the relationship between vibrancy and crime rates through the use of business and crime data for the City of Chicago between the years 2014 and 2018. Using business licenses as a proxy for urban vibrancy, I develop time and place fixed effects models to examine the relationship between business licenses and crime throughout the city’s census tracts. The findings generally indicate that more business licenses are negatively associated with higher crime rates, a conclusion which falls in line with the new urbanist hypothesis. However, business heterogeneity and the dynamic nature of urban vibrancy limit the degree to which theoretical conclusions can be drawn from the empirical analysis. Further research is needed to find new ways of measuring vibrancy and expand our understanding of the neighborhood and environmental dynamics of urban crime.

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