Homicide Rates Re: As It Will Be

Gordon Mohr gojomo@usa.net
Thu, 2 May 2002 19:56:11 -0500


Robert Harley writes:
> Getting killed is the bottom line, whatever the cause.  Here are
> homicide rates (per 100000) and population (1000's) for the EU
> countries and the US:
> 
>   Austria         1.31     8075    
>   Belgium         1.24    10192   
>   Denmark         0.80     5295    
>   Finland         3.38     5147    
>   France          1.25    58728   
>   Germany         1.11    82057   
>   Greece             ?    10511   
>   Ireland         0.71     3694    
>   Italy           1.75    57563   
>   Luxembourg         ?      424     
>   Netherlands     0.75    15654   
>   Portugal        1.79     9957    
>   Spain           0.78    39348   
>   Sweden          1.08     8839    
>   United Kingdom  0.86    58862   
> 
>   US   8.3 286000
> 
> Works out to a total of about 4450 homicides for 374 million people in
> the EU (NB: Europe total ~= 684 x 10^6), versus the US at 23700
> homicides for 286 million people.

Can you provide a source for these figures? (There are a lot of
iffy, inaccurate, outdated, or incomparable stats floating around 
the net -- and the US murder rates have plummetted over the past
decade.)

The FBI reports a a US "muder and nonnegligent manslaughter"
rate in 2000 of only 5.5 per 100,000 [1] -- so I think your data
may be quite old.

I have no doubt that the murder rate in the US is higher than
most other developed countries; we have higher highs and lower
lows than other places -- that's freedom for you -- and there
remain some disgracefully dangerous places, esp. in certain 
cities, which drive our numbers way up. 

Looking on the bright side:

(1) Murders do not occur by random selection; choices of
residence or lifestyle can avoid the greatest risks, and
many murders occur between people (e.g. those in criminal 
organizations) who have chosen a risky path. 

(2) Americans tend not to commit suicide as much as 
Europeans. From the WHO [2]:

Suicide Rate per 100K

    USA   11.4 (1996)
 France   19.9 (1997)
Denmark   17.5 (1996)
     UK    7.4 (1998)
Germany   14.2 (1998)

So taking for example, the US versus France -- if we in fact have
4 more murders per 100K (assuming your French number is current), 
but 8 fewer suicides, who's to say what's better?

- Gordon

[1] http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_00/00crime2_3.pdf
[2] http://www.who.int/mental_health/Topic_Suicide/suicide1.html