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Homicide in the United States: Who's at Risk?

NCJ Number
Population Trends and Public Policy Issue: 21 Dated: (February 1995) Pages: complete issue
F L MacKellar; M Yanagishita
Date Published
20 pages
Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, this paper examines homicide victims, murderers, and the circumstances surrounding the crime and concludes that although homicide rates are at near-record highs for the 20th Century, risk of being a victim has increased for some segments of the population and declined for others.
Approximately 25,500 homicides occur in the United States each year. The homicide rate in the United States is 10.0 per 100,000 population, higher than that of any industrialized nation. Persons at greatest risk of being murdered are young adults, males, and blacks. Young black males are far more likely to be murdered than any other segment of the population. Homicide rates are highest for people in their 20's, especially their early 20's. Rates for teenage males are at record highs; rates for children under age 14 are at or near the record highs for the era since World War II. For adults ages 40 or over, the risk of being a homicide victim declined between 1980 and 1990. Murderers, like victims, tend to be young and male. Seventy percent of homicides in the United States in 1993 were committed with a firearm. Even if homicide deaths from handguns were eliminated and the crime were not committed by some other means, the United States homicide rate would remain above those of most industrialized countries. Figures, tables, and appended tables and map