The contribution of age structure to the international homicide decline

Autoři: Mateus Rennó Santos aff001;  Alexander Testa aff002;  Lauren C. Porter aff003;  James P. Lynch aff003
Působiště autorů: Department of Criminology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, United States of America aff001;  Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, United States of America aff002;  Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, United States of America aff003
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222996



Since 1990, the world’s homicide rate has declined by nearly 20%. While prior research has documented parallel homicide declines across many individual countries, the causes of a shared international homicide decline remain unknown. Drawing on a worldwide process of population ageing, and on research linking age to criminal activity, this study investigates the contribution of global demographic shifts to the international homicide decline.


We draw from (1) a High Coverage Sample of 126 countries since 1990, and (2) a Long Series Sample of 26 countries since 1960 and utilize fixed-effect regressions to evaluate the impact of age structure on homicide trends. In addition, we use a quantile regression to explore variations in the relationship between age structure and homicide conditional on homicide levels.


Results using the High Coverage Sample suggest no relationship between age structure and homicide. However, results from the Long Series Sample suggest that changes in the relative size of countries’ youth population is a major predictor of homicide trends since 1960. In exploring this divergence, we find that the influence of age structure on homicide becomes less evident as other risk factors for violence gain prominence. Thus, while high homicide countries had the most to gain from falling homicide rates, the safety benefits of an ageing population have been concentrated among the least violent countries.


While the homicide declines of individual countries have often been attributed to domestic policies, the universality of international homicide trends suggests the influence of broader global phenomenon. We find that countries’ homicide trends are strongly associated with changes in the size of their youth populations, particularly where there are few competing criminogenic forces. Based on these results, we propose an explanation for the international homicide decline, while highlighting the importance of demographic patterns in explaining homicide trends.

Klíčová slova:

Age groups – Global health – Population dynamics – United Nations – United States – War and civil unrest – Homicide – Violent crime


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