Connect with us

Health

Homicide is Apparently Declining Around the World – But Why?

Published

on

Homicide is declining around the world – but why?

by Mateus Renno Santos and Alexander Testa for the Conversation

Americans are currently living in one of the lowest crime periods ever – and so are many people in the rest of the world.

Following decades of increasing crime during the 1960s, ‘70s and ’80s, U.S. homicide rates declined by almost 40% throughout the 1990s, and have remained low since.

Most explanations of this extraordinary decline in violence put forth by politicians and early academic research focus on events and domestic policies exclusive to the United States. However, emerging studies are providing evidence that this crime decline is not unique to the U.S., but rather occurring across most of the world.

A global decline in violence suggests that criminal justice policies of individual countries may have less impact on the decline in homicide than worldwide events or trends.

In our new study, published on Oct. 9, we make the case for another possible explanation: The population of countries around the world is getting older.

A global homicide decline

Most of the world has experienced a parallel reduction in homicide over the previous three decades.

In fact, the homicide patterns observed across countries spread throughout the world are strikingly similar over time. Despite having unique cultures, criminal justice policies and systems of governance, countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania have seen homicide reduce by similar magnitudes over similar time periods.

Between 1990 and 2015, in both North America and Western Europe, the number of homicide victims per 100,000 people declined by 46%, while Asia saw a reduction of 38% and Oceania of 22%.

The steepest reductions typically occurred in the safest regions of the world. For example, homicide rates fell further in Asia and Western Europe, which already had the lowest levels of homicide.

There are two major exceptions to the trend: Africa, where quality data are lacking, and Latin America, a region marked by historically higher levels. In fact, since 1990, Latin America has experienced a 9% increase in homicide rates.

Possible causes

Social scientists are not certain of the causes of this overall decline.

Policymakers, scientists and law enforcement officials have proposed several explanations for the dramatic reductions in crime during this period, including increased incarceration, receding drug markets, innovations in policing, improvements in the economy, increased immigration and the legalization of abortion.

Most of these explanations link the violence reduction to domestic policies of individual countries.

Of course, this type of research is challenging, as many countries do not collect reliable data on key variables. For example, long-term data on gun ownership, drug use, the influence of organized crime and the efficacy of courts and policing institutions are not available for most countries.

Age and the homicide decline

We have a global explanation.

Between 1950 and 2019, the world median age has increased from 24 to 31 years. This graying population will pose many new challenges and possibly drag down economic growth.

Could an aging population be the driving force behind decreasing crime? This has been one of the hypothesized causes since the very early research about the homicide decline.

Research shows that crime participation peaks during adolescence and early adulthood, then declines as individuals progress through adulthood. It follows then that countries should have more violent crime when a greater proportion of their population are teenagers and young adults. Research also shows that older societies tend to be more orderly and more peaceful.

Our study

We looked at homicide data from the World Health Organization and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as well as the United Nations data on the age composition of countries.

Accounting for features of countries such as percentage of males, economic inequality, economic development and how urban or rural a country is, we found that the percentage of a country’s population that is young – between 15 and 29 years old – has been a key predictor of homicide trends since 1960.

For the safest countries, a one percentage point increase in the percent of people aged 15 to 29 corresponds to an increase of 4.6% in the homicide rate.

In the United States, rising homicide rates during the 1960s and 1970s paralleled a spike in the young population following the baby boom. An early homicide decline occurred in the 1980s, which follows a trend of a decreasing youth population as baby boomers aged into late adulthood. This early crime decline was interrupted in 1985 by the crack epidemic, and the corresponding escalation of violence. However, in 1992, as the crack epidemic waned, homicide trends resumed their decline alongside an aging population.

Aside from the United States, several other countries around the world also experienced steep homicide declines since the 1990s in parallel with an aging of their populations, such as Canada, Austria, Japan and Italy.

These countries share few commonalities in terms of their national cultures, domestic policies and approach to criminal justice. Japan, for example, has seen a steep aging of their population and a homicide decline, but with far less forceful criminal justice policies than those in the U.S.

Our models suggest to us that age plays a large role in this pattern. Age was the only factor we looked at that consistently predicted homicide increases and declines over an extended period of time.

Mateus Renno Santos is Assistant Professor of Criminology, University of South Florida. Alexander Testa is Assistant Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice, The University of Texas at San Antonio.

The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Health

Public Health Updates From LA County on Novel Coronavirus

Published

on

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recently hosted a press briefing to provide an update on the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and the interagency work being done to identify and assess travelers who may have been exposed to the virus.
 
A significant number of resources across Los Angeles County are focused on protecting the public’s health at large,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health.

“To date, there have been no reported coronavirus cases in LA County and currently the risk of local transmission is low according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We will keep everyone informed as more information becomes available. We are urging the public to remain calm, as it is very unlikely that they are at risk of contracting this virus,” she added.
 
The CDC announced the first case in the United States on January 21, 2020. Recently, hundreds of cases of pneumonia associated with a novel coronavirus in Wuhan City have been identified.

Public Health will continue assisting the CDC to ensure that travelers who may have visited Wuhan City that have a fever or respiratory illness symptoms are appropriately screened, tested and receive care. Travelers who have visited Wuhan City who are not ill upon their arrival to the LA County are advised to contact a healthcare provider and seek care if they become ill while here.

While there is no cure for this virus, hospital partners and clinical providers are able to test and care for ill travelers to minimize transmission and treatment for symptoms.
 
Health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control practices at all times.  Public Health will continue to provide updated information about the diagnosis and management of cases of novel coronavirus to health care providers and all hospitals in the County in an effort to identify and contain any future cases.

About Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning that they cause infections that usually exist exclusively in animals but can be transmitted to humans. However, some coronaviruses are also able to be transmitted from person to person, like SARS and MERS, while others are not.

While there is no specific cure for infections caused by the novel coronavirus, hospital partners and clinical providers are able to provide care for symptoms caused by the infection. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

People who have traveled to Wuhan, China since December 1, 2019, could have been exposed to the virus. Seek medical care if you traveled to Wuhan and develop a fever and fever or respiratory symptoms within 14 days of your return. We want to underscore that there is no need to exclude anyone who has traveled to or from Wuhan City, or China in general, unless they are symptomatic, at which time they should seek a medical evaluation.
 
There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with this novel coronavirus, and investigations are ongoing in China and at least five other countries.
 
For more information about 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) visit  publichealth.lacounty.gov, or call 2-1-1.


Continue Reading

Health

LA Public Defender Leads $1.2 Million Grant to Help Mentally Ill

Published

on

LOS ANGELES — The LA County Public Defender’s Office is the lead agency for a $1.2 million grant to divert people suffering from mental illness out of jail and into treatment.

LA County has been awarded the two-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation to directly address the over-incarceration of the mentally ill.

Los Angeles County operates the world’s largest jail system and its jails remain critically overcrowded. One of the main drivers of the local jail population is the incarceration of the mentally ill.

The grant will allow the Public Defender’s Office, working with other County and City agencies, to expand pre-plea diversion for those in custody as a result of a mental disorder. The effort will work toward breaking the cycle from medical and mental health facilities to custody, with a focus on the homeless population.

“Mentally ill people do not belong in jails,” LA County Public Defender Ricardo D. García said. “The startup funding provided by the MacArthur Foundation represents a substantial opportunity to mitigate the counterproductive use of criminal courts and jails as holding centers for the mentally ill men, women and children of Los Angeles County.”

This new initiative will include embedding mental health professionals in high volume courtrooms, same-day assessments of defendants who appear to suffer from a mental health disorder, and the pre-plea release and diversion of qualifying individuals into mental health treatment programs.

To help guide the launch of this program, the initiative will utilize provisions of AB 1810, a state law enacted in 2018 that allows pre-plea diversion for some defendants with mental health needs.

Partner agencies in this endeavor include the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender; Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office; Department of Mental Health; Sheriff’s Department; Department of Probation; Department of Public Health; Health Agency Departments; County Counsel’s Bail Reform Team; Project 180, with support from the Superior Court.

The $1.2 million MacArthur grant will go toward diverting people suffering from mental illness out of jails and into treatment.

Continue Reading

Health

L.A. Teachers Sue Delta Airlines for Fuel Dump on Elementary School

Published

on

L.A. Teachers Sue Delta Airlines for Fuel Dump on Elementary School

LOS ANGELES — Delta Airlines just got hit with a lawsuit because one of its jets allegedly dumped fuel on an L.A. elementary school.

Video showed Delta flight 89, a Boeing 777 bound for China, turning back to LAX Tuesday to make an emergency landing, and spewing fuel as it went in preparation for landing. Unfortunately, that fuel ended up dousing children at Park Avenue Elementary in the city of Cudahy, CA.

Four teachers at the school have hired Gloria Allred to take on Delta. In the suit, obtained by TMZ, they say the pilot was asked by air traffic control if there was a need to dump fuel before landing … and the pilot said no.

The suit alleges the pilot dumped the fuel without notifying the control tower … and the big problem is … it was done at an altitude of about 2,000 feet. According to docs, that’s simply too low to allow the fuel to evaporate before it reaches the ground — it should be done at 5,000 feet or higher.

In the suit, the teachers say their clothes, flesh and eyes were coated in jet fuel — and it also got into their mouths. They say they had trouble breathing and needed medical treatment.

They’re suing Delta for negligence … and seeking damages.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)


Continue Reading
Advertisement

This Just In…

Trending