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Medical News & Perspectives
January 6, 1999

Ebbing Epidemic: Youth Homicide Rate at a 14-Year Low

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JAMA. 1999;281(1):25-26. doi:10.1001/jama.281.1.25-JMN0106-5-1

WASHINGTON—According to US government statistics, the epidemic of homicide affecting persons 15 through 24 years of age crested in 1993. At the epidemic's peak, popular Hollywood films depicted the inner city as a war zone, where combatants dared not go unarmed. Since then youth homicide rates have declined steadily (JAMA. 1998;280:403-404, and 1998;280:423-427).

Criminologists and economists were challenged to explain the epidemic's decline at the 50th annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology held in this city in the fall. Some of the reasons were independent of any deliberate intent to do something about rising youth homicide rates, said Richard Rosenfeld, PhD, of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri in St Louis. These reasons included changes in the market for illegal drugs and the broad economic expansion in the United States.