Investigating the effect of social changes on age-specific gun-related homicide rates in New York City during the 1990s

Magdalena Cerda, Steven F. Messner, Melissa Tracy, David Vlahov, Emily Goldmann, Kenneth J. Tardiff, Sandro Galea

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

17 Scopus citations


Objectives. We assessed whether New York City's gun-related homicide rates in the 1990s were associated with a range of social determinants of homicide rates. Methods. We used cross-sectional time-series data for 74 New York City police precincts from 1990 through 1999, and we estimated Bayesian hierarchical models with a spatial error term. Homicide rates were estimated separately for victims aged 15-24 years (youths), 25-34 years (young adults), and 35 years or older (adults). Results. Decreased cocaine consumption was associated with declining homicide rates in youths (posterior median [PMJ=0.25; 95% Bayesian confidence interval [BCI]=0.07, 0.45) and adults (PM=0.07; 95% BCI=0.02, 0.12), and declining alcohol consumption was associated with fewer homicides in young adults (PM=0.14; 95% BCI=0.02, 0.25). Receipt of public assistance was associated with fewer homicides for young adults (PM =-104.20; 95% BCI=-182.0, -26.14) and adults (PM=-28.76; 95% BCI=-52.65, -5.01). Misdemeanor policing was associated with fewer homicides in adults (PM =-0.01; 95% BCI=-0.02, -0.001). Conclusions. Substance use prevention policies and expansion of the social safety net may be able to cause major reductions in homicide among age groups that drive city homicide trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1107-1115
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this