Violent Death Rates: The US Compared with Other High-income OECD Countries, 2010

Published:November 06, 2015DOI:



      Violent death is a serious problem in the United States. Previous research showing US rates of violent death compared with other high-income countries used data that are more than a decade old.


      We examined 2010 mortality data obtained from the World Health Organization for populous, high-income countries (n = 23). Death rates per 100,000 population were calculated for each country and for the aggregation of all non-US countries overall and by age and sex. Tests of significance were performed using Poisson and negative binomial regressions.


      US homicide rates were 7.0 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher. For 15- to 24-year-olds, the gun homicide rate in the United States was 49.0 times higher. Firearm-related suicide rates were 8.0 times higher in the United States, but the overall suicide rates were average. Unintentional firearm deaths were 6.2 times higher in the United States. The overall firearm death rate in the United States from all causes was 10.0 times higher. Ninety percent of women, 91% of children aged 0 to 14 years, 92% of youth aged 15 to 24 years, and 82% of all people killed by firearms were from the United States.


      The United States has an enormous firearm problem compared with other high-income countries, with higher rates of homicide and firearm-related suicide. Compared with 2003 estimates, the US firearm death rate remains unchanged while firearm death rates in other countries decreased. Thus, the already high relative rates of firearm homicide, firearm suicide, and unintentional firearm death in the United States compared with other high-income countries increased between 2003 and 2010.


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