Murder and Development – what's the link?

October 7, 2011 3 By admin

homicide rates“There are many reasons why people kill each other and multiple driving forces often interact when they do, but homicide levels and trends indicate that the link between homicide and development is one of the clearest. Higher levels of homicide are associated with low human and economic development.

The largest shares of homicides occur in countries with low levels of human development, and countries with high levels of income inequality are afflicted by homicide rates almost four times higher than more equal societies.

Homicide and property crime were affected by the global financial crisis of 2008/2009, with increases in homicides coinciding with drops in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and rises in the Consumer Price index (CPI) in a sample of countries affected by the crisis. Likewise, levels of economic performance also have an affect on homicide.

Homicide rates in South America, for example, have decreased during periods of economic growth in the last 15 years. Homicide trends also followed the economic fluctuations in many of the countries that once formed part of the Soviet Union, by increasing when GDP dropped in the aftermath of its break up, before decreasing once their economies had recovered.

Long-term, sustainable economic and social development also requires governance based on the rule of law. Indeed, in all countries where there has been a strengthening of the rule of law in the last 15 years there has also been a decline in the homicide rate, while most countries where homicide has increased have a relatively weak rule of law.”

From the UN’s 2011 Global Study on Homicide

Other bits: 

Globally, the total number of homicides in 2010 was 468,000. More than a third (36 per cent) of those are estimated to have occurred in Africa, 31 per cent in the Americas, 27 per cent in Asia, 5 per cent in Europe and 1 per cent in Oceania.

Women may make up the majority of victims of intimate partner/family-related homicide, but the bigger picture reveals that men are most often involved in homicide in general, accounting for some 80 per cent of homicide victims and perpetrators.

Southern Africa and Central America, South America and the Caribbean have considerably higher homicide rates than other subregions, while, at the opposite end of the scale, Western, Northern and Southern Europe, and Eastern Asia have the lowest homicide rates.

And the most lethal countries in the world are (in descending order) St Kitts and Nevis (eh?), Guatemala and Honduras, with 85, 84 and 83 murders per 100,000 people respectively. Great, now I’m really looking forward to my trip to Guatemala next month.

[h/t Ed Cairns]