U.S. Murder Rate for 2018 Is on Track for a Big Drop
The murder rate in the United States in 2018 is on track for the largest one-year drop in five years.
The numbers obviously aren’t final, and the F.B.I. won’t formally report 2018’s murder figures until September 2019.
But based on a comparison of 2017 data and 2018 data for 66 large American cities (population over 250,000), we can observe the trend as it is occurring and offer a reasonable forecast. (The 2018 data I’ve collected is available here).
Murder rose 23 percent nationally between 2014 and 2016 before leveling off in 2017. Major increases in murder in Chicago and Baltimore received much of the national attention, but the increase occurred throughout the country.
The Brennan Center in 2017, for example, found a 4.4 percent decline in 29 large cities for which data was available. Yet the F.B.I.’s national murder count was essentially unchanged in 2017 relative to 2016. (It was officially down 0.7 percent, but that was because the F.B.I. revised 2016’s murder total upward, to 17,284 from 17,250.)
The sample of cities we’re using in this article accurately predicted the movement of the national murder change every year but 2002, when murder was down 1.4 percent in the big cities but up 1.1 percent nationally. On average, the sample of cities overstated the national trend by 2.4 percentage points.
If these big cities end the year down about 7 percent from 2017, and if big cities tend to overstate the national trend by about 2.4 percentage points on average, murder should be down by around 4 percent to 5 percent nationally this year.
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