• Carlos Munoz Burgos

Tools: the homicide rate

I do not think there has been a post where I have not mentioned a homicide rate. I often talk about how high the homicide rate is in Central America’s Northern Triangle and how low it is in the United States. But what does this rate mean? The homicide rate describes the number of homicides recorded in a country per every 100,000 people. For example, in 2014 there was a total of 3,912 homicides in El Salvador and the population was 6,281,000. This is equal to a homicide rate of 62.28 per 100,000 people.

3,912

----------------------- = 0.000623 x 100,000 = 62.28

6,281,000

This rate allows us to compare the homicide rate across countries, instead of looking at the number of homicides as an indicator. A larger country might have a larger number of homicide rates than a small country; however, given their population size difference, it is not useful to compare homicide numbers.

An important point to consider is that calculating rates for countries of less than 100,000 will generate an inflated rate when compared to countries with populations of 100,000 or more. For countries of less than 100,000, a different denominator should be used to compare across countries.