How has the homicide rate changed through time? The Bureau of Justice Statistics of our great government compiles statistics on just this kind of thing.
This data arises from the report “Homicide Trends in United States” by Erica Smith and Alexia Cooper, from their table “Number of homicide victims, 1950-2010.”
This first chart is the rate per 100,000 population. Note that the early 1980s and of course the late 2000s were period of recessions.
Let the theories fly!
The next two figures break down the rate by Whites and Blacks. Note that the scale changes from picture to picture (the White rate is about a tenth of the Black rate). There are two lines in each: the red line shows the homicide rates (the “Killed”). The black line shows rate that each group was the assailant (the “Killers”).
Whites killed and are killed by about the same, and falling, rate.
Blacks kill at higher rates than they are killed. Interestingly, the difference in the killer/killed rate appears roughly constant for most years, and narrowing slightly in recent years.
Finally, the same two plots for Males and Females (note the scale change again; Males are about five times higher).
Males have either a victim deficit or they are killing at rates higher than one would expect if there were no differences in sex.
After looking at the Female data, we conclude there is a discrepancy in sex: perhaps a government program can address this.