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Regional Variation in Homicide Rates: Why Is the West So Violent?

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Abstract:

Scientists have long been interested in the fact that the South has consistently had the highest crude homicide rates in the United States. Past investigations, however, have generally been predicated on the assumption that this geographic pattern was not attributable to or substantially altered by the age or race structures of the populations being compared. In this study, we calculated age-adjusted homicide rates for each of three race categories—white, black, and other—for each state and region in the United States in 1980. We found that for each race group, homicide rates were highest, not in the South, but in the West. Moreover, homicide rates for blacks were lower in the South than in any other region of the country. We infer that, for 1980 at least, the high crude homicide rate in the South results from the mutual effect of two factors: (1) blacks have very high homicide rates compared with whites, and (2) blacks make up a larger proportion of the population in the South than in other regions of the country. It remains to be determined whether the age-adjusted, race-stratified rates of past decades also show this pattern.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: 1: Intentional Injuries Section, Epidemiology Branch, Division of Injury Epidemiology and Control, Center for Environmental Health and Injury Control, Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, Georgia 30333. 2: Intentional Injuries Section, Epidemiology Branch, Division of Injury Epidemiology and Control, Center for Environmental Health and Injury Control, Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

Publication date: 1989-01-01

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  • Violence and Victims discusses theory, research, policy, and clinical practice in the area of interpersonal violence and victimization across such disciplines as psychology, sociology, criminology, law, medicine, nursing, psychiatry, and social work.

    The journal's 2014 Impact Factor is 0.858.
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