Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 381–396 | Cite as

A Test of Competing Hypotheses about Homicide Following Terrorist Attacks: An Interrupted Time Series Analysis of September 11 and Oklahoma City

  • William Alex Pridemore
  • Mitchell B. Chamlin
  • Adam Trahan
Original Paper


There is substantial evidence that catastrophic events, including terrorist attacks, lead to increased levels of post-traumatic stress, especially in communities in close proximity to the incident. Some scholars also argue that these events disrupt social organization. On the other hand, many contend that these incidents produce social cohesion as community members coalesce to help each other in time of need. These ideas have resulted in competing hypotheses in the literature. The first is that violence will increase in the wake of catastrophic events due to heightened levels of individual stress and community disorganization. The second is that violence will decline after these events because of increased social cohesion, especially in the face of an outside threat. In order to test these competing hypotheses, we employed autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) techniques to model the impact of the Oklahoma City bombing and the September 11 attacks on monthly homicide counts at the local, state, and national level. Unlike prior studies that provided evidence of an effect but did not use rigorous time-series techniques, we found no support for either of the competing hypotheses. We conclude that while such catastrophic events may have an effect on individual and collective efficacy well beyond the immediate impact of the incidents, these effects are not strong enough to influence homicide rates.


Terrorism Homicide Oklahoma City bombing September 11 Time series analysis 



We thank Lee Annest and Lily Xi at the Centers for Disease Control for providing us with the national data, Daljit Singh at the New York State Department of Health for providing the New York data, and Derek Pate and Kelly Baker at the Oklahoma State Department of Health for providing the Oklahoma data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Alex Pridemore
    • 1
  • Mitchell B. Chamlin
    • 2
  • Adam Trahan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Criminal JusticeUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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