The Impact of Improvements in Medical Care Resources on Homicide Trends: The Case of Germany (1977–2011)

  • Antonia Linde


This paper addresses whether improvements in healthcare that have taken place since the second half of the twentieth century have contributed to a decrease in the number of homicide victims in Germany. Our study accessed data on healthcare medical resources, mortality, and life expectancy primarily from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Health Statistics, as well crime data from Interpol’s International Crime Statistics and the European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics. The results corroborate the hypothesis when the analysis takes into consideration a time span of more than half a century and remains plausible when it covers the last two decades.


Homicide Medical care Firearms Aggravated assault Germany 


  1. Aebi, M. F. (2010). Methodological issues in the comparison of police-recorded crime rates. In S. G. Shoham, P. Knepper, & M. Kett (Eds.), International handbook of criminology (pp. 211–227). Boca Raton/London/New York: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aebi, M. F., & Linde, A. (2010a). Is there a crime drop in Western Europe? European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 16(4), 251–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aebi, & Linde. (2010b). A review of victimisation in Europe from 1970 to 2010. In J. van Dijk, P. Mayhew, J. van Kesteren, M. F. Aebi, & A. Linde (Eds.), Final report on the study on crime victimisation. Tilburg: Intervict/PrismaPrint.Google Scholar
  4. Aebi, M. F., & Linde, A. (2012a). Conviction statistics as an indicator of crime trends in Europe from 1990 to 2006’. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 18, 103–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aebi, M. F., & Linde, A. (2012b). Crime trends in Western Europe according to official statistics from 1990 to, 2007. In J. van Dijk, A. Tseloni, & G. Farrell (Eds.), The international crime drop: new directions in research. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  6. Aebi, M. F., & Linde, A. (2014). The persistence of lifestyles: rates and correlates of homicide in Western Europe from 1960 to 2010. European Journal of Criminology, 11(5), 552–577.Google Scholar
  7. Aebi, M. F., Aromaa, K., Aubusson de Cavarlay, B., Barclay, G., Gruszczyńska, B., von Hofer, H., & Tavares, C. (2006). European sourcebook of crime and criminal justice statistics-2006 (3rd ed.). Den Haag: Boom Juridische Uitgevers.Google Scholar
  8. Aebi, M. F., Aubusson de Cavarlay, B., Barclay, G., Gruszczyńska, B., Harrendorf, S., Heiskanen, M., & Pórisdóttir, R. (2010). European sourcebook of crime and criminal justice statistics-2010 (4th ed.). Den Haag: Boom Juridische Uitgevers.Google Scholar
  9. Aebi, M. F., Akdeniz, G., Barclay, G., Campistol, C., Caneppele, S., Gruszczyńska, B., & Pórisdóttir, R. (2014). European sourcebook of crime and criminal justice statistics-2014 (4th ed.). Helsinki: Heuni.Google Scholar
  10. Baier, D., & Hanslmaier, M. (2016). Crime in Germany as reflected in the police crime statistics. In D. Baier & C. Pfeiffer (Eds.), Representative studies on victimisation (pp. 13–36). Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Barlow, H., & Barlow, L. (1988). More on the role of weapons in homicide violence. Medicine and Law, 7, 347–358.Google Scholar
  12. Blath, R. (2007). Victimisations Surveys in Comparative Perspective. In Aromaa, K. and Heiskanen, M.. Victimisation Surveys in Comparative Perspective. Stockholm Criminology Symposium. 2007.Google Scholar
  13. Blumstein, A. (2000). Disaggregating the violence trends. In A. Blumstein & J. Wallman (Eds.), The crime drop in America (pp. 13–44). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police Office). (2013). Police crime statistics report. Federla republic of Germany (English version).Google Scholar
  15. Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend [Federal Ministry of Family Affairs Senior Citizens]. (2005). Action Plan of the Federal Government to combat violence against women. Available online at (last accessed on 15-07-2016):,property=pdf,bereich=bmfsfj,sprache=de,rwb=true.pdf
  16. Bunker, J. P. (2001). The role of medical care in contributing to health improvements within societies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 30(6), 1260–1263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Catana, C., Drzezga, A., Heiss, W.-D., & Rosen, B. R. (2012). PET/MRI for Neurological Applications. Journal of Nuclear Medicine : Official Publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine, 53(12).Google Scholar
  18. Chon, D. S. (2010). Medical resources and national homicide rates: a cross‐national assessment. International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, 34(1), 97–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. CoE, Council of Europe. (1999). European sourcebook of crime and criminal justice statistics-[1999] (1st ed.). Strasbourg: Council of Europe.Google Scholar
  20. Doerner, W. (1983). Why does Johnny Reb die when shot? The impact of medical resources upon lethality. Sociological Inquiry, 53, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Doerner, W. (1988). The impact of medical resources upon criminallyinduced lethality: A further examination. Criminology, 26, 171–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Doerner, W., & Lab, S. (1998). Victimology. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publication Co.Google Scholar
  23. Doerner, W., & Speir, J. (1986). Stitch and sew: The impact of medical resources upon criminally induced lethality. Criminology, 24, 319–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Entorf, H., & Spengler, H. (2000). Socioeconomic and demographic factors of crime in Germany: Evidence from panel data of the German states. International Review of Law and Economics, 20(1), 75–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Esmail, N. and Wrona, D. (2008). Medical technology in Canada. Studies in Health Care Policy (August).The Fraser Institute.Google Scholar
  26. Estrada, F. (2006). Trends in violence in Scandinavia according to different indicators an exemplification of the value of Swedish hospital data. British Journal of Criminology, 46(3), 486–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Federal Office of Administration. (2015). The German national firearms register: advantages and challenges from the German perspective. Germany: Federal Office of Administration.Google Scholar
  28. Ganpat, S.M; Granath, S.; Hagstedt, J; Kivivuori, J.; Lehti, M.; Liem, M.C.A.; Nieuwbeerta, P. (2011) Homicide in Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden: A first study on the European Homicide Monitor Data. Edita Norstedts Västerås Brottsförebyggande rådet/The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention Data.Google Scholar
  29. Gastil, R. (1971). Homicide and a regional culture of violence. American Sociological Review, 136, 412–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Granath, S. (2011). Homicide in Sweden. In Handbook of European homicide research. Liem, M. & Pridemore, W. (eds). (405-419). Springer New York.Google Scholar
  31. Harris, A. R., Thomas, S. H., Fisher, G. A., & Hirsch, D. J. (2002). Murder and medicine the lethality of criminal assault 1960-1999. Homicide Studies, 6(2), 128–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. INAHTA- The International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment. Available online at (last accessed on 15-07-2016):
  33. Jehle, J.-M. (2015). Criminal justice in Germany: facts and figures (6th ed.). Berlin: Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.Google Scholar
  34. Killias, M. and Markwalder, N (2011). Firearms and Homicide in Europe. In Handbook of European homicide research. Liem, M. & Pridemore, W. (eds). (261-272). Springer New York.Google Scholar
  35. Killias, M., Barclay, G., Smit, P., Aebi, M. F., Tavares, C., Aubusson de Cavarlay, B., & Aromaa, K. (2003). European sourcebook of crime and criminal justice statistics-2003 (2nd ed.). Den Haag: Boom Juridische Uitgevers.Google Scholar
  36. Kivivuori, J. (2014). Understanding trends in personal violence: does cultural sensitivity matter? Crime and Justice, 43(1), 289–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lattimore, P. K., Trudeau, J., Riley, K. J., Leiter, J., & Edwards, S. (1997). Homicide in eight US cities: Trends, content and policy. National Institute of Justice. U.S. Department of Justice. Research Report.Google Scholar
  38. Loftin, C., & Hill, R. H. (1974). Regional subculture and homicide: an examination of the Gastil-Hackney thesis. American Sociological Review, 39, 714–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lott, J. R., Jr., & Mustard, D. B. (1997). Crime, deterrence, and right‐to‐carry concealed handguns. The Journal of Legal Studies, 26(1), 1–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Martin, R. A. J., & Legault, R. L. (2005). Systematic measurement error with state-level crime data: Evidence from the “more guns, less crime” debate. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 42(2), 187–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Matteson, D. W., Burr, J. A., & Marshall, J. R. (1998). Infant mortality: A multi-level analysis of individual and community risk factors. Social Science & Medicine, 47, 1841–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Monkkonen, E. (2001). New standards for historical homicide research. Crime, Histoire & Sociétés/Crime, History & Societies, 5, 5–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mucchielli, L. (2010). Are we living in a more violent society? a socio-historical analysis of interpersonal violence in France, 1970s–present. British Journal of Criminology, 50(5), 808–829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Neill, C., & Leigh, A. (2007). Weak tests and strong conclusions: a re-analysis of gun deaths and the Australian firearms buyback. Available at SSRN 1011519.Google Scholar
  45. Nolte, E., Scholz, R., Shkolnikov, V., & McKee, M. (2002). The contribution of medical care to changing life expectancy in Germany and Poland. Social Science & Medicine, 55, 1905–1921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Oberwittler, D., & Höfer, S. (2005). Crime and justice in Germany: an analysis of recent trends and research. European Journal of Criminology, 2(4), 465–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. OECD- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Health at a Glance 2015. Available online at (last accessed on 20-07-2016):
  48. OECD- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. OECD Health Statistics 2016. Definitions, Sources and Methods. Available online at (last accessed on 20-07-2016):
  49. Or, Z., Wang, J., & Jamison, D. (2005). International differences in the impact of doctors on health: A multilevel analysis of OECD countries. Journal of Health Economics, 24(3), 531–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ozanne-Smith, J., Ashby, K., Newstead, S., Stathakis, V. Z., & Clapperton, A. (2004). Firearm related deaths: the impact of regulatory reform. Injury Prevention, 10(5), 280–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pritchett, L., & Summers, L. H. (1996). Wealthier is healthier. Journal of Human Resources, 31, 841–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Riley, J. C. (2001). Rising life expectancy: a global history. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Rubin, P. H., & Dezhbakhsh, H. (2003). The effect of concealed handgun laws on crime: Beyond the dummy variables. International Review of Law and Economics, 23, 199–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Savage, J., Benett, R. R., & Danner, M. (2008). Economic assistance and crime. European Journal of Criminology, 5, 217–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Scatliff, J. H., & Morris, P. J. (2014). From Röntgen to magnetic resonance imaging. The history of medical imaging. North Carolina Medical Journal, 75(2), 111–113.Google Scholar
  56. Small Arms Survey. (2007). Small arms survey 2007: guns and the city. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Smit, P. R., de Jong, R. R., & Bijleveld, C. C. (2012). Homicide data in Europe: definitions, sources, and statistics. In Handbook of European homicide research (pp. 5–23). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  58. Tonry, M. (2014). Why crime rates Are falling throughout the western world. Crime & Justice, 43, 1–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. UNODC—United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2016). United Nations surveys on crime trends and the operations of criminal justice systems. Vienna: United Nations. Available online at (last accessed on 05-07-2016):
  60. Van der Gaag, J., & Barham, T. (1998). Health and health expenditures in adjusting and non-adjusting countries. Social Science & Medicine, 46, 995–1009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Van Dijk, J. J. M., van Kesteren, J., & Smit, P. (2007). Criminal victimisation in Inter-national Perspective. Key findings from 2004-2005 International Crime Victim Survey and the European Survey of Crime and Safety (EU ICS 2005): Onderzoek en beleid, No. 257. Ministry of Justice, WODC.Google Scholar
  62. WHO—World Health Organization. (2016b). WHO Mortality Database. Historical trend series data. Available online at (last accessed on 29-06-2016):
  63. WHO- World Health Organization (2016a). European Health for all database HFA-DB. Available online at (last accessed on 18-07-2016):
  64. Wolfgang, M. (1958). Patterns in criminal homicide. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. World Bank. The World Bank’s Open Data. World Development Indicators. Washington: World Bank. Available online at (last accessed on 18-07-2016):
  66. Zimring, F. E., & Hawkins, G. (1997). Crime is not the problem: Lethal violence in America. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Criminal Sciences, ESC - Sorge - BCHUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Law and Political ScienceUniversitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia)CastelldefelsSpain

Personalised recommendations