Investigating the Effect of Social Changes on Age-Specific Gun-Related Homicide Rates in New York City During the 1990s

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Investigating the Effect of Social Changes on Age-Specific Gun-Related Homicide Rates in New York City During the 1990s

Category: Homicide, Youth|Journal: American Journal of Public Health (full text)|Author: D Vlahov, E Goldmann, K Tardiff, M Cerda, M Tracy, S Galea, S Messner|Year: 2010

Objectives

We assessed whether New York City’s gun-related homicide rates in the 1990s were associated with a range of social determinants of homicide rates.

 

Methods

We used cross-sectional time-series data for 74 New York City police precincts from 1990 through 1999, and we estimated Bayesian hierarchical models with a spatial error term. Homicide rates were estimated separately for victims aged 15–24 years (youths), 25–34 years (young adults), and 35 years or older (adults).

 

Results

Decreased cocaine consumption was associated with declining homicide rates in youths (posterior median [PM] = 0.25; 95% Bayesian confidence interval [BCI] = 0.07, 0.45) and adults (PM = 0.07; 95% BCI = 0.02, 0.12), and declining alcohol consumption was associated with fewer homicides in young adults (PM = 0.14; 95% BCI = 0.02, 0.25). Receipt of public assistance was associated with fewer homicides for young adults (PM = –104.20; 95% BCI = –182.0, –26.14) and adults (PM = –28.76; 95% BCI = –52.65, –5.01). Misdemeanor policing was associated with fewer homicides in adults (PM = –0.01; 95% BCI = –0.02, –0.001).

 

Conclusions

Substance use prevention policies and expansion of the social safety net may be able to cause major reductions in homicide among age groups that drive city homicide trends.

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