theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer

Friday, December 9, 2016


Homicides, drug overdoses, car accidents: all are up.

nevodka / Shutterstock


 I have an unhealthy fascination with the CDC’s WONDER system, which catalogs how Americans die each year. I’ve been checking it every day for the past week or so because I knew it would be updated with 2015 numbers soon.
They finally went up yesterday. Here are a some of the first things I looked up.
Here’s Your Ferguson Effect
The FBI confirmed earlier this year that murder rose substantially between 2014 and 2015—lending credence to the “Ferguson Effect” theory, in which police respond to protests by backing off of enforcement, causing crime to rise. WONDER allows you to break the data out by month so we can see if the protests and the nationwide crime increases coincided. Here are the last three years’ worth of “assault death” tallies. (This is basically homicides, but not including things like terrorism and killings by police.)
As others have said previously, it might be better seen as a “Freddie Gray Effect.” Michael Brown was killed in August of 2014, Gray in April of 2015.
Here’s Your Ferguson Effect by Race
Since the recent protests were heavily focused on race, the Ferguson Effect theory predicts that homicide increases will be concentrated among blacks. That appears to be the case, as I’ve noted before.
Unlike the FBI data, WONDER allows us to separate out Hispanics from non-Hispanic whites, revealing that the rate for non-Hispanic whites hardly budged at all. (In this chart, Hispanics are excluded from all other categories.)

Guns, Cars, and Drugs Revisited
Last year at RealClearPolicy, I made a chart comparing those three mechanisms of death. Here it is again with 2015 data added. The overdose epidemic didn’t even slow down; guns and cars stayed tied, but both rose a good bit. Kind of a bad year all around on this front.
All of these include suicides, homicides, and accidents, though the mix varies substantially.
Drug Overdoses by Race
Like homicides, fatal drug overdoses have a severe racial skew—but a very different one.

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