Income Inequality, Household Income, and Mass Shooting in the United States

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Income Inequality, Household Income, and Mass Shooting in the United States

Category: Mass Shootings|Journal: Frontiers in Public Health (full text)|Author: J Cabrera, R Kwon|Year: 2018

Mass shootings are becoming a more common occurrence in the United States. Data show that mass shootings increased steadily over the past nearly 50 years. Crucial is that the wide-ranging adverse effects of mass shootings generate negative mental health outcomes on millions of Americans, including fear, anxiety, and ailments related to such afflictions. This study extends previous research that finds a strong positive relationship between income inequality and mass shootings by examining the effect of household income as well as the interaction between inequality and income. To conduct our analyses, we compile a panel dataset with information across 3,144 counties during the years 1990 to 2015. Mass shootings was measured using a broad definition of three or more victim injuries. Income inequality was calculated using the post-tax version of the Gini coefficient. Our results suggest that while inequality and income alone are both predictors of mass shootings, their impacts on mass shootings are stronger when combined via interaction. Specifically, the results indicate areas with the highest number of mass shootings are those that combine both high levels of inequality and high levels of income. Additionally, robustness checks incorporating various measures of mass shootings and alternative regression techniques had analogous results. Our findings suggest that to address the mass shootings epidemic at its core, it is essential to understand how to stem rising income inequality and the unstable environments that we argue are created by such inequality.

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