Homicide in Global Perspective: the Americas' Exceptionalism

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recently released its 2013 Global Study on Homicide: Trends, Context, Data, a very detailed analysis of homicide crime data around the world.  Intentional homicide is defined as "unlawful death purposefully inflicted on a person by another person."  Excluded are killings directly related to war or conflicts, suicide, and legal interventions or justifiable killings (such as self-defense).  The goal of this study was to "improve understanding of criminal violence by providing a wealth of information about where homicide occurs and with what intensity, about who is most at risk, why they are at risk and exactly how their lives are taken from them. Additionally, homicide patterns over time shed light on regional differences, especially when looking at long-term trends."

The data show marked regional differences in homicide: of the almost 500,000 intentional homicide deaths that occurred in 2012, more than "a third (36 percent) occurred in the Americas, 31 percent in Africa and 28 percent in Asia, while Europe (5 percent) and Oceania (0.3 percent) accounted for the lowest shares of homicide at the regional level. [...] The global average homicide rate stands at 6.2 per 100,000 population, but Southern Africa and Central America have rates over four times higher than that (above 24 victims per 100,000 population), making them the sub-regions with the highest homicide rates on record, followed by South America, Middle Africa and the Caribbean (between 16 and 23 homicides per 100,000 population). Meanwhile, with rates some five times lower than the global average, Eastern Asia, Southern Europe and Western Europe are the sub-regions with the lowest homicide levels."

According to the report, the continuing high levels of homicide in the Americas (a region that includes North, Central, South American countries, and the Caribbean) are being driven by the legacy of decades of political and crime-related violence in some of the region's countries, as well as high levels of organized crime/gang-related homicide, and the prevalent use of firearms: two thirds of the region's homicides are committed with guns, compared to 13 percent in Europe.

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Gun Violence in America (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3864)
Generational Trends in Attitudes about Gun Ownership: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3448)
International Justice Statistics (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3060)
CrimeStat III (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/search?fulltext=crime&x=0&y=0&f%5B0%5D=)
Regional Crime Analysis Geographic Information System (RCAGIS) (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3054)
Social Structure, Race/Ethnicity, and Homicide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3118)
Frederique Laubepin


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