5 Most Sinful Cities in America

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- If you're the kind of person who eats dessert first or picks a college to attend because of its party-school reputation, here's a look at five "sinful cities" you'd probably love to move to.

"Our list includes some things that might not make a city very desirable -- like the level of violent crime -- but five of the seven things we looked at are actually kind of harmless," says Randy Nelson of property-listing site Movoto.com, which recently ranked America's largest cities for residents' involvement with the Seven Deadly Sins.

The study analyzed 95 of the nation's 100 most-populous communities (Movoto couldn't get complete data for the other five) to see how often locals commit the Catholic Church's seven major sins: Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth and Wrath.

Nelson came up with the idea for the study because he wanted to test whether Las Vegas really lives up to its "Sin City" nickname.

"Everyone calls Las Vegas 'Sin City,' which got me thinking: 'What are sins, and can we somehow technically measure them?'" he says.

The expert ended up matching each behavior on the church's 1,400-year-old list of sins with a modern-day measure of immorality.

For instance, Nelson gauged Wrath by looking at the FBI's annual report on each U.S. city's violent-crime rate -- the number of murders, robberies, aggravated assaults, rapes and non-negligent manslaughter cases reported each year per 1,000 residents.

Other measures the study used:

  • Envy. Movoto quantified this sin by looking at each community's FBI property-crime rate, which counts how many burglaries, larcenies and car thefts occur each year per 1,000 residents.
  • Gluttony. The study looked at the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control's latest estimates of each city's obesity rate.
  • Greed. Nelson calculated Greed by using Philanthropy.com's figures of how much the average person in each locale gives to charity in a given year. The lower the percentage of disposable income donated, the higher the assumed greed.
  • Lust. The site ranked each community's Lust level by determining the number of strip clubs per capita advertised on Yelp.com.
  • Pride. Nelson measured Pride by calculating how many plastic surgeons each city has per capita, again based on Yelp.com listings.
  • Sloth. Movoto judged Sloth by looking at CDC estimates of each city's inactivity rate, the percent of a community's population that's not physically active.

Surprisingly, Las Vegas only came in 10th place on Movoto's list of 21st-century Sodoms and Gomorrahs.

Nelson says that's because the only deadly sin the study found Vegas significantly engages in is Lust, given the city's high per-capita number of strip clubs.

"Las Vegas does have some crime and theft and other measures of sin, but it's really just adult entertainment that keeps it in the top 10," says Nelson, who didn't measure gambling because casinos are illegal in many U.S. cities.

Click below to check out the five communities that Movoto's study crowned as America's Most Sinful Cities. All figures refer to things that occur within city limits only, omitting suburbs and other parts of metro areas.