Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Just last week I received an email with the following claim comparing 1915 to 2015.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.! In 2014 this figure had risen to 14,249.

In the UK the murder rate in 1915 was 1420. In 2015 it was 537. (Perhaps we are doing something right!)

Obviously written by a Pom and it’s the sort of stat that would go across FaceBook like lightening but how likely is it?

As it turns out, not as straight forward as various interest groups would like, but of course that will not stop them cherry picking and bending the details to suit their purpose.

But I digress.

The only real way to make comparisons is to work on the murder rate per 100,000 per population, and even then you need to be cautious on what source you use. The biggest discrepancy I found came from the UK where a victims group claimed 9.0 compared to the UN figure of 1.57. Clearly something is being tweaked here but who can tell? The fine print on the higher figure indicates some firearm deaths have been included which weren’t murder related but seeing as the UK isn’t flooded with firearms I think something else is skewing the stat. I’m inclined to go with the UN figure because it at least has some chance of consistency across countries and years.

So how does the US fare on UN figures? Surprisingly not a major change over 100 years. Way back when it was a rate of 5.9 which now reads as 5.22 on Chartsbin and on Wikipedia it’s a lower 3.8.

For the UK it’s 1.0 now compared to 0.81 in the 1910’s. A minor rise but not terribly significant.

Good old Oz? From 1.8 down to 1.6

Clearly the US has always come in at the high end for ‘civilised’ countries but not as high as I would have expected with their access to guns, and it hasn’t moved very far at all. Is it higher now that Trump is playing the fear card? Of course its too early to tell but it will be an interesting stat to watch. Hopefully a cranky old man can’t cause a blip in the murder rate but the Yanks do seem to be terribly vulnerable to Fear campaigns.

Oh, and the highest rate of all? Honduras with a whopping 90.4 per 100,000. If you see a time share opportunity in that location, I’d be giving it the big swerve.


Citizens Report UK

Wikipedia List of countries by intentional homicide rate



2 thoughts on “Lies, damned lies, and statistics

    1. I thought it sounded like a bit of unlikely America bashing and you are getting enough grief via Trump. 😉

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