Is the U.S. more violent than other countries? What the data shows.

The United States Is Far More Violent Than Other Rich Countries. This Chart Shows It.

The United States Is Far More Violent Than Other Rich Countries. This Chart Shows It.

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The Slatest
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Oct. 2 2015 5:04 PM

The U.S. Is Far More Violent Than Other Rich Countries


Whatever you think of gun control in the wake of the shooting spree in Oregon, one thing is for sure: The U.S. really is far more violent than other advanced countries, and you need only to glance at the above chart to see it. The chart, created by Kieran Healy, a professor of sociology at Duke University and republished here with permission, shows the rate at which people die by assault in the U.S. and how that rate has changed over time in orange. In blue, it shows the rates of 23 other wealthy countries. The good news is that the U.S.’s rate has steadily declined since 1980. The bad news is that we’re still about three times as violent as any other country in the dataset.

The chart compares the U.S. with other advanced countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. It shows estimates of the rate of death from any type of assault, including assaults in which no firearms were involved. In the U.S., about 70 percent of all homicides involve guns. Many if not most of the other countries in the chart—Australia, Germany, Japan, the U.K.—have stricter gun control laws than the U.S. What, then, explains the U.S.’s violence? Is it that we are crazier than Japan? Is it that we just like killing each other more than Australians? Could it possibly be that we have more guns per person than any of these countries?


Chris Kirk is a web developer at New York magazine and Slate’s former interactives editor. Follow him on Twitter.