Homicides*

Number of deaths due to homicide per 100,000 population.

The 2021 County Health Rankings used data from 2013-2019 for this measure.

Reason for Including

Homicide rates are valuable to report because they provide specificity to violent crime and injury deaths. High levels of violent crime, including homicide, compromise physical safety and psychological well-being.[1]

Key Measure Methods

Homicides is a Rate

Homicides is the number of deaths from assaults per 100,000 population. Rates measure the number of events (e.g., deaths, births, etc.) in a given time period (generally one or more years) divided by the average number of people at risk during that period. Rates help us compare data across counties with different population sizes.

Deaths are Counted in the County of Residence for the Person Who Died, Rather than the County Where the Death Occurred

It is important to note that deaths are counted in the county of residence of the deceased. So, even if a homicide occurred across the state, the death is counted in the home county of the individual who died.

Some Data are Suppressed

A missing value is reported for counties with fewer than 10 homicide deaths in the time frame.

Numerator

The numerator is the number of deaths in a county over a 7-year period due to homicide as defined by ICD-10 codes X85-Y09 (assault).

Denominator

The denominator is the aggregate county population over the 7-year period.

Can This Measure Be Used to Track Progress

This measure can be used to measure progress with some caveats. It is important to note that the estimate provided in the County Health Rankings is a 7-year average. However, in most counties, it is relatively simple to obtain single-year estimates from the resource included below. Homicide data can also be further broken down by year and method of assault. These breakdowns could help measure the impact of interventions specific to homicide prevention.

Data Source

Years of Data Used

2013-2019

National Center for Health Statistics - Mortality Files

Data on deaths and births were provided by NCHS and drawn from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). These data are submitted to the NVSS by the vital registration systems operated in the jurisdictions legally responsible for registering vital events (i.e., births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and fetal deaths). In prior years of the Rankings, Premature Death was calculated by the National Center for Health Statistics, but this year the Mortality-All County (micro-data) file was requested. This allowed us to calculate Premature Death and Life Expectancy ourselves. While most calculations of mortality rates can be downloaded from CDC WONDER, the calculation of Years of Potential Life Lost and Life Expectancy requires raw data files. 

Digging Deeper
Age 1
Gender 1
Race 1
Education 0
Income 0
Subcounty Area 0

We recommend starting with the CDC WONDER database, which contains information on homicide rates by race, ethnicity, age, gender, geography, and more. Rates can be exported as raw or age-adjusted. Small counties might need to combine multiple years of data to see rates, as CDC suppresses any rates when there are fewer than 10 deaths.

References

[1] Ellen IG, Mijanovich T, Dillman KN. Neighborhood effects on health: Exploring the links and assessing the evidence. Journal of Urban Affairs. 2001;23:391-408.

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