Fact Checking: US Murder Rate Over Time

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Figure 1: US Murder Rate Versus Time. (Data Source)

Figure 1: US Murder Rate Versus Time. The units are murders per 100K population. (Data Source)

I recently heard a politician claim that the US murder rate is the "highest it's been in 47 years." This is an easy fact to check and provided me another Power Query example to provide for my staff.

This statement is not correct. The statistics have not been released yet for 2016, but I can easily look at the data from 1960 to 2015. The actual 2015 rate is the ninth lowest in the 46 years period from 1960 through 2015. In fact, 2013 and 2014 had the lowest murder rates during that time interval. You have to go back to the 1950s to find significantly lower murder rates than we are experiencing now – this data is included in the spreadsheet attached below.

Here is the annual murder rate rank computed on my spreadsheet.

Figure 2: Years of Lowest Murder Rates.

Figure 2: Years of Lowest Murder Rates.

For those who want to follow my work, here is my source.


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2 Responses to Fact Checking: US Murder Rate Over Time

  1. Douglas Ruisaard says:

    It is not terribly unusual for non-statistically oriented persons to conflate various (related) measurements. Here what the reference to the increase likely refers to:

    "... erred by conflating the murder rate itself with the size of the year-over-year increase in the murder rate. That is, the 2015 rate (4.9 per 100,000) marked an increase of approximately 11 percent over the previous year’s murder rate (4.4 per 100,000), which, it would be accurate to say, is the highest year-over-year rate of increase in 45 years. ..."

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