Context Homicide rates for persons 15 through 24 years old began to decline
between 1993 and 1994, but recent trends in homicide rates by mechanism of
homicide and urbanization group have not been described.
Objective To examine homicide trends from 1987 through 1995 for persons 15 through
24 years old by urbanization level.
Design Homicide rates by urbanization level were analyzed using the Compressed
Mortality File, a county-level mortality and population database maintained
by the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, and the rural-urban continuum codes developed by the Economic
Research Service, US Department of Agriculture.
Setting United States, 1987 through 1995, according to 5 urbanization strata:
core, counties with the primary central city of a metropolitan statistical
area (MSA) of 1 million or more; fringe, remaining counties within an MSA
of 1 million or more; medium, counties within an MSA of 250,000 to 999,999;
small, counties in an MSA of less than 250,000; and nonmetropolitan, counties
not in an MSA.
Subjects All persons 15 through 24 years old by race whose cause of death was
homicide (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth
Revision codes E960-E969).
Main Outcome Measures Firearm and nonfirearm homicide rates and average annual percentage
changes by 5 urbanization levels, race, and sex.
Results From 1987 through 1991, the average annual firearm homicide rates among
persons 15 through 24 years old among all 5 urbanization strata increased
between 10.7% in small counties and 19.8% in fringe counties. From 1991 through
1993, the rates increased between 3.3% in core counties and 11.7% in small
counties. From 1993 through 1995, the rates declined between 4.4% in fringe
counties and 15.3% in medium counties. By 1995, firearm homicide rates among
persons 15 through 24 years old ranged from 6.5 and 7.3 per 100,000 in the
nonmetropolitan and small counties, respectively, to 9.6 and 13.3 per 100,000
in the fringe and medium strata, respectively, to 33.5 per 100,000 in the
core stratum. During 1987 through 1990, nonfirearm homicide rates either were
stable or increased, and from 1990 through 1995, nonfirearm homicide rates
declined in all 5 strata, on average 3.7% to 8.0% per year, with rates in
1995 ranging from 2.1 to 4.7 per 100,000 across the strata.
Conclusions After increasing since 1987, firearm and nonfirearm homicide rates began
declining between 1993 and 1995 among persons 15 through 24 years old. These
declines are taking place across all urbanization strata and among white and
black males and females.