Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guns, Culture and the Southern Impact: A more in depth look at the numbers

Gun Show in Houston, TX
Gun Show in Houston, TX
(Wikimedia Commons)  
Earlier, I posted an article that proposed a simple hypothesis: The gun culture is more pervasive in the southern states. And found a strong correlation between violent crime and how far south a state was. I also found that that correlation was more significant than the impact race had on violent crime.

The basic observation came from Steven Pinker's remarkable The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. But many people on political sites still questioned my results. So I dug back into the data.

Turns out that my initial findings were confirmed. Instead of all violent crime, I used murder rates in 2006 -- the only data that I could find that sperated out black from white murder rates cleanly. So, let's look at that dataset...

[It should be noted that the posted data did not include FL. And the author removed both HI and AK, and focused on the continental US.] 

Impact of Latitude Overall Murder Rate

Fig 1: How far south a state's capitol is accounts for 57% of  their murder rate.
Fig 1: How far south a state's capitol is accounts
for 57% of  their murder rate.
Again the relationship between the south and murder seems clear. In fact, in this sample, about 57% of the variation is explained by this single variable.

So the trend being clear. the further south you move, the higher the murder rates are. This fits in very well with my hypothesis.

Parts of this doe run contrary to expectation. Since the northern states include major urban areas with very high murder rates, notably Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and Cleveland. And yet, the trend seems very clear.

And so, as they say on Myth Busters: "Myth of the Uber Violent North due to its Industrial Cities: BUSTED." And Pinker's hypothesis that southern states are the more violent? "CONFIRMED."

Impact of Latitude on Black and White Murder Rates

I think it's impossible to debate violent crime without saying a few things abut race. And, when I took race into account it turns out that both black people and white people have, on average, higher rates of murder in the south than the north. See Figures 2 and 3.

Again, I'd have to call Pinker's hypothesis confirmed. At least based on the 2006 data, and my previous research.

Fig. 2: How far south a state is accounts for about 34% of white murder rates
Fig. 2: How far south a state is accounts for about 34% of white murder rates
Fig. 3: How far south a state is accounts for about 32% of black murder rates
Fig. 3: How far south a state is accounts for about 32% of black murder rates

Conclusion

Of course, this is just one look at a very small amount of data. But this look does appear to make it clear that the further south you move, the higher murder and violence rates climb.

There are likely many drivers to this. And there is no way that one little blog posting could ever do justice to the topic. But it should be noted that the Southern states tend to have poorer schools than the nothern states based on test scores. And greater overall rates of poverty.

And so, the reasons that the murder rate goes up in the south is exactly akin to why it goes up in the inner cities: poverty. Which leads me to suspect that one of the reasons are murder rates are so high compared to our First World peers is because we tend to have a poorer overall safety net. And that lack of security creates a populous that is scared and on edge.

And having people be on edged and armed? That's a powder keg.

I wouldn't light any matches if I were you.

No comments:

Post a Comment