by Doctor Science
I got statistics for the previous post on Intimate Partner Homicide (IPH) from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Homicide Trends Report. I see that report comes from Uniform Crime Reporting Program Data Series, which I don't know how to massage.
But I wonder how reliable that data really is. In our discussion, Jason Kuznicki linked to 2003 paper about the possible role of changing to unilateral divorce laws. In discussing the data they used, the authors state:
One outlier to this is Illinois where the Chicago Police Department failed to report any murders in 1984, 1985, November 1986–May 1987, July 1987–I have no idea if these holes are there in the data used from the Homicide Trends Report, or if they're significant for other cities, states, and years.
December 1987 and July 1990–December 1990. As it is implausible that there were no murders during these periods, we omit Illinois from our homicide samples.
I'm pretty sure, too, that somewhere in my browser history there's a paper about IPH that was using a figure of 300-and-something for a recent year, which is also wtf.
Basically, I get the feeling that the US homicide stats may have some serious holes, but I don't know enough about the field to know where/why/how. And everyone agrees that homicide is the crime for which stats are most accurate.
What looking for statistics feels like. And I'm allergic to wool.
Meanwhile, I went looking for international comparisons. Here we run into a problem: the US has an extremely large population (3rd in the world) with a high homicide rate, so the total number of homicides (more than 15,000/year) is large enough for all kinds of statistically significant analysis. The countries that are closest to the US culturally are both much smaller and have a much lower homicide rate, so the number of homicides they experience makes for much less robust statistics. Canada has fewer than 600 homicides/year, the U.K. has fewer than 800. Countries that have a total number of homicides comparable to the US -- Brazil or Mexico, for instance -- aren't culturally very similar.
If anyone has any better links or more authoritative insights, cough 'em up. All I can say is that, almost everywhere in the world, the overall murder rate has been falling for a decade at least.