Homicide rates in English Speaking New World Countries


The above chart was created from UNODC data.

Many comparisons have been made between the homicide rates of the the United States and various European countries.  They have been made between members of the G-8, or among “developed” or “advanced” countries, or “economically developed” countries, though all of these comparisons suffer from various unstated assumptions, typically that “economic” development is the prime predictor of homicide rates, which clearly is not correct.

Here is a comparison of homicide rates among new world countries where the dominant or official language is English.   This creates an interesting set of common characteristics.   All of these countries were inhabited only by pre-Columbian immigrants a little more than 500 years ago.   All of them were colonized by Europeans, Africans (as a result of the slave trade, in some form or another), and, to a much lesser extent, Asians.   The current populations are now a significant mix of people descended from European, pre-Columbian new world,  African, and Asian cultures.  The pre-Columbian cultures were mostly destroyed and displaced over the last 500 years.  The pre-Columbian languages have been mostly displaced by English in these countries.  I was unable to find UNODC data for the Falkland Islands.

The above chart was created from UNODC data.
The above chart was created from UNODC data.

Interestingly, the greatest survival of pre-Columbian languages and cultures in these countries exists in Canada and the United States.

The chart shows the enormous problems with international comparisons of crime and homicide rates.  Differences in culture, data collection, and definitions make comparisons very difficult, perhaps to the point of meaninglessness.  Culture is far more important than method or economic condition.



Consider one aspect of the law that is often linked to homicide rates, firearm regulation.   The U.S. Virgin Islands is listed separately from the United States because it is listed separately in the UNODC data.  Perhaps it is because the territory was only purchased by the United States in 1917.   It and Belize are tied for the highest homicide rates of the countries listed.  Both entities have extremely restrictive laws regulating the possession and carry of firearms.  At the other end of the spectrum, we have Canada and the United States.  The firearm laws in Canada are much less restrictive than those in the U.S. Virgin Islands or Belize.   The firearm laws in the United States are the least restrictive of the group.

The comparison supports what other researchers have found.   If firearms regulation has any effect on the overall homicide rate, it is not easily discerned from international comparisons.

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation. ©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch



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