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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Washington: Firearm Homicide Rate Higher in U.S. Counties with Greater Income Inequality

Counties in the United States with greater gaps between rich and poor have a higher rate of homicide deaths involving firearms, according to a national study from the University of Washington School of Public Health.

The study, published Feb. 19 in Injury Prevention, quantified the association between county-level income inequality and the number of firearm homicide victims per 100,000 residents in the county. Researchers found this association to be positively correlated when looking at all races together and at individual race and ethnic groups. It was especially persistent among African-American populations, in which the firearm murder rate was almost 10 percent higher for every 0.04 greater value of the Gini index, a common measure of income inequality.

“This study adds to the existing body of literature on the negative consequences of income inequality,” said lead author Dr. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology. “We need to promote policies that help close the gap between the rich and the poor, which may also have the potential to reduce firearm violence.”

Co-authors were investigators Dr. Anjum Hajat, Dr. Frederick Rivara, Dr. Duane Alexander Quistberg and doctoral student Ms. Erin Morgan.

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