Advertisement

Demography

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 645–663 | Cite as

The Impact of the Homicide Decline on Life Expectancy of African American Males

  • Patrick SharkeyEmail author
  • Michael Friedson
Article

Abstract

Homicide is a leading cause of death for young people in the United States aged 15–34, but it has a disproportionate impact on one subset of the population: African American males. The national decline in homicide mortality that occurred from 1991 to 2014 thus provides an opportunity to generate evidence on a unique question—How do population health and health inequality change when the prevalence of one of the leading causes of death is cut in half? In this article, we estimate the impact of the decline in homicide mortality on life expectancy at birth as well as years of potential life lost for African American and white males and females, respectively. Estimates are generated using national mortality data by age, gender, race, and education level. Counterfactual estimates are constructed under the assumption of no change in mortality due to homicide from 1991 (the year when the national homicide rate reached its latest peak) to 2014 (the year when the homicide rate reached its trough). We estimate that the decline in homicides led to a 0.80-year increase in life expectancy at birth for African American males, and reduced years of potential life lost by 1,156 years for every 100,000 African American males. Results suggest that the drop in homicide represents a public health breakthrough for African American males, accounting for 17 % of the reduction in the life expectancy gap between white and African American males.

Keywords

Life expectancy Homicide Mortality Public health Race 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Amar Hamoudi for taking the time to review and talk through our methods and code in detail. His feedback and guidance were enormously valuable. Thanks also to Glenn Firebaugh, Robert Sampson, and Larry Wu for helpful feedback on the project.

References

  1. Aizer, A., & Currie, J. (2017). Lead and juvenile delinquency: New evidence from linked birth, school and juvenile detention records (NBER Working Paper No. 23392). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w23392
  2. Aragón, T. J., Lichtensztajn, D. Y., Katcher, B. S., Reiter, R., & Katz, M. H. (2008). Calculating expected years of life lost for assessing local ethnic disparities in causes of premature death. BMC Public Health, 8(116).  https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-8-116
  3. Arias, E. (2012). United States life tables, 2008 (National Vital Statistics Reports Vol. 61, No. 3). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_03.pdf
  4. Branas, C. C., Cheney, R. A., MacDonald, J. M., Tam, V. W., Jackson, T. D., & Ten Have, T. R. (2011). A difference-in-differences analysis of health, safety, and greening vacant urban space. American Journal of Epidemiology, 174, 1296–1306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carey, J. R. (1989). The multiple decrement life table: A unifying framework for cause-of-death analysis in ecology. Oecologia, 78, 131–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2001). Influence of homicide on racial disparity in life expectancy—United States, 1998. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 50, 780–783. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5036a2.htm
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2004). NCHS procedures for multiple-race and Hispanic origin data: Collection, coding, editing, and transmitting. Atlanta, GA: Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/Multiple_race_documentation_5-10-04.pdf
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017). Leading causes of death in males and femalesUnited States, 2014. Atlanta, GA: CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/lcod/index.htm
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (n.d.). 10 leading causes of death by age group, United States2013. Atlanta, GA: National Vital Statistics System, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/leading_causes_of_death_by_age_group_2013-a.pdfGoogle Scholar
  10. Chalfin, A., & McCrary, J. (2013). The effect of police on crime: New evidence from U.S. cities, 1960–2010 (NBER Working Paper No. 18815). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w18815.pdf
  11. Coker, A. L., Davis, K. E., Arias, I., Desai, S., Sanderson, M., Brandt, H. M., & Smith, P. H. (2002). Physical and mental health effects of intimate partner violence for men and women. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 23, 260–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cook, P. J., Dodge, K., Farkas, G., Fryer, R. G., Guryan, J., Ludwig, J., . . . Steinberg, L. (2015). Not too late: Improving academic outcomes for disadvantaged youth (Working Paper No. 15-01). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University, Institute for Policy Research. Retrieved from https://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/publications/docs/workingpapers/2015/IPR-WP-15-01.pdf
  13. Cook, P. J., & MacDonald, J. (2011). Public safety through private action: An economic assessment of BIDS. Economic Journal, 121, 445–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dowell, D., Arias, E., Kochanek, K., Anderson, R., Guy, G. P., Jr., Losby, J. L., & Baldwin, G. (2017). Contribution of opioid-involved poisoning to the change in life expectancy in the United States, 2000–2015. JAMA, 318, 1065–1067.Google Scholar
  15. Farrell, G., Tilley, N., & Tseloni, A. (2014). Why the crime drop? Crime and Justice, 43, 421–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Uniform Crime Reporting Program. (2015). Crime in the United States 2014. Washington, DC: FBI. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014
  17. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Uniform Crime Reporting Program. (2016). Crime in the United States 2015. Washington, DC: FBI. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015
  18. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Uniform Crime Reporting Program. (2017). UCR data tool [Data set]. Retrieved from https://www.ucrdatatool.gov
  19. Firebaugh, G., Acciai, F., Noah, A., Prather, C. J., & Nau, C. (2014). Why the racial gap in life expectancy is declining in the United States. Demographic Research, 31, 975–1006.  https://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2014.31.32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fowler, P. J., Tompsett, C. J., Braciszewski, J. M., Jacques-Tiura, A. J., & Baltes, B. B. (2009). Community violence: A meta-analysis on the effect of exposure and mental health outcomes of children and adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 21, 227–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fox, J. A., & Zawitz, M. W. (2017). Homicide trends in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htius.pdf
  22. Friedson, M., & Sharkey, P. (2015). Violence and neighborhood disadvantage after the crime decline. ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 660, 341–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fuchs, V. R. (2016). Black gains in life expectancy. JAMA, 316, 1869–1870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gardner, J. W., & Sanborn, J. S. (1990). Years of potential life lost (YPLL)—What does it measure? Epidemiology, 1, 322–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Geronimus, A. T., Bound, J., & Colen, C. G. (2011). Excess black mortality in the United States and in selected black and white high-poverty areas, 1980–2000. American Journal of Public Health, 101, 720–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harper, S., Lynch, J., Burris, S., & Davey Smith, G. (2007). Trends in the black-white life expectancy gap in the United States, 1983–2003. JAMA, 297, 1224–1232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harper, S., Rushani, D., & Kaufman, J. S. (2012). Trends in the black-white life expectancy gap, 2003–2008. JAMA, 307, 2257–2259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Heller, S. B. (2014). Summer jobs reduce violence among disadvantaged youth. Science, 346, 1219–1223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Keith, V. M., & Smith, D. P. (1988). The current differential in black and white life expectancy. Demography, 25, 625–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kochanek, K. D., Arias, E., & Anderson, R. N. (2013). How did cause of death contribute to racial differences in life expectancy in the United States in 2010? (NCHS Data Brief No. 125). Atlanta, GA: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db125.pdf
  31. Lai, D., & Hardy, R. J. (1999). Potential gains in life expectancy or years of potential life lost: Impact of competing risks of death. International Journal of Epidemiology, 28, 894–898.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Levine, R. S., Foster, J. E., Fullilove, R. E., Fullilove, M. T., Briggs, N. C., Hull, P. C., . . . Hennekens, C. H. (2001). Black-white inequalities in mortality and life expectancy, 1933–1999: Implications for healthy people 2010. Public Health Reports, 116, 474–483.Google Scholar
  33. Levitt, S. D. (2004). Understanding why crime fell in the 1990s: Four factors that explain the decline and six that do not. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(1), 163–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McEwen, B. S. (2000). The neurobiology of stress: From serendipity to clinical relevance. Brain Research, 886, 172–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Meara, E. R., Richards, S., & Cutler, D. M. (2008). The gap gets bigger: Changes in mortality and life expectancy, 1981–2000. Health Affairs, 27, 350–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mooney, C. Z. (1997). Monte Carlo simulation (Sage University Paper Series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, Series No. 07-116). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  37. National Institutes of Health. (2017). Estimates of funding for various research, condition, and disease categories (RCDC). Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://report.nih.gov/categorical_spending.aspx
  38. National Research Council. (2014). The growth of incarceration in the United States: Exploring causes and consequences. Committee on Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration, J. Travis, B. Western, & S. Redburn (Eds.). Committee on Law and Justice, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  39. Olshansky, S. J., Antonucci, T., Berkman, L., Binstock, R. H., Boersch-Supan, A., Cacioppo, J. T., . . . Rowe, J. (2014). Differences in life expectancy due to race and educational differences are widening, and many may not catch up. Health Affairs, 31, 1803–1813.Google Scholar
  40. Olshansky, S. J., Passaro, D. J., Hershow, R. C., Layden, J., Carnes, B. A., Brody, J., . . . Ludwig, D. S. (2005). A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century. New England Journal of Medicine, 352, 1138–1145.Google Scholar
  41. Phillips, D. P. (n.d.). The life table. San Diego, CA: University of California, San Diego. Retrieved from http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dphillips/lifetable_detailed_construction.txt
  42. Pridemore, W. A. (2003). Recognizing homicide as a public health threat: Toward an integration of sociological and public health perspectives in the study of violence. Homicide Studies, 7, 182–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Redelings, M., Lieb, L., & Sorvillo, F. (2010). Years off your life? The effects of homicide on life expectancy by neighborhood and race/ethnicity in Los Angeles County. Journal of Urban Health, 87, 670–676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Reyes, J. W. (2007). Environmental policy as social policy? The impact of childhood lead exposure on crime. B. E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 7(1).  https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.1796
  45. Roeder, O., Eisen, L. B., & Bowling, J. (2015). What caused the crime decline? New York, NY: Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law. Retrieved from https://www.brennancenter.org/publication/what-caused-crime-decline
  46. Sharkey, P. (2010). The acute effect of local homicides on children’s cognitive performance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107, 11733–11738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sharkey, P., Torrats-Espinosa, G., & Takyar, D. (2017). Community and the crime decline: The causal effect of local nonprofits on violent crime. American Sociological Review, 82, 1214–1240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stewart, S. T., & Cutler, D. M. (2014). The contribution of behavior change and public health to improved U.S. population health (NBER Working Paper No. 20631). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w20631.pdf
  49. U.S. Census Bureau. (2017). American fact finder [Data set]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml
  50. Wildeman, C., & Wang, E. A. (2017). Mass incarceration, public health, and widening inequality in the USA. Lancet, 389, 1464–1474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wong, M. D., Shapiro, M. F., Boscardin, W. J., & Ettner, S. L. (2002). Contribution of major diseases to disparities in mortality. New England Journal of Medicine, 347, 585–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zimring, F. E. (2006). The great American crime decline. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Criminology & AnthropologyUniversity of Wisconsin–WhitewaterWhitewaterUSA

Personalised recommendations