Do You Live in One of America’s Most Sinful Cities?

Based on a new report from WalletHub, which ranks 180 places, you might

A panoramic view of Las Vegas at night. According to a new WalletHub report, it really is the most sinful city in the U.S.
Las Vegas lives up to its nickname.
America/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty

Nicknamed Sin City, Las Vegas is known as a destination for anyone who is looking to have a good time by engaging in some behaviors that might not fly or even be legal in other locales across the United States. Based on a new report from WalletHub about the most sinful places in America, that reputation is 100% deserved.

Using data sourced from organizations including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Eventbrite, Google and Tinder, WalletHub compared and ranked more than 180 U.S. cities based on seven sinful behaviors: anger and hatred, jealousy, excesses and vices, greed, lust, vanity and laziness. Within those categories, WalletHub then weighted 38 relevant metrics such as bullying rate, share of obese adults, excessive drinking, debt-to-income ratio, teen birth rate, adult entertainment establishments per capita, volunteer rate, average daily time spent watching TV and Google search interest for “Top 5 Plastic Surgeries” to determine a city’s overall score for sin.

Likely to the surprise of no one, Las Vegas clocked in as the most sinful city in America with a score of 59.93 out of 100 on the WalletHub Vice Index. Surprisingly, Vegas wasn’t No. 1 in any of the categories, but the desert destination ranked No. 2 for greed and No. 5 in both lust and vanity. Following Las Vegas on the list were St. Louis (55.14), Philadelphia (54.11), Houston (53.72) and Atlanta (53.39). On the other end of the spectrum, Cape Coral (Florida), West Valley City (Utah), Fremont (California), Bridgeport (Connecticut) and Port St. Lucie (Florida) were ranked as the least wicked places in America.

The most sinful cities in America, mapped.
The most sinful cities in America, mapped.

Asked by WalletHub if sinful behavior is influenced by the surrounding environment, Cleveland State University sociology professor Linda Francis basically said that it depends on what is considered “sinful” by a particular culture.

“Combine the social construction of sin with the process of socialization and the distribution of opportunity and you get a pretty narrow window to talk about innate sin,” she said. “If you consider crime a sin, then we are indeed a more sinful society than many. But crime rates are tied directly to equality of opportunity (or lack of it) and fear of loss of status. Societies with high economic inequality like ours create a structural motivation for people to turn to illegal activities to increase income. While for those at the lower end, this is a survival strategy, it even holds for those at the upper end, because the consequences of loss of income are potentially so dire. Think about the difference between walking up a shallow slope vs. climbing a precipice; the consequences of a stumble on the latter are enormously higher. The more unequal a society, the steeper the slope and the more it resembles the precipice — even those near the top can be insecure. This may explain why more unequal societies are so much more likely to define those below them as sinful and try to remove them from competition for resources.”


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