A new study by a Tulane University professor puts New Orleans' murder rate as the highest in the country.Apparently, I was being optimistic when I used a population of 200,000 New Orleans residents.
The study estimates the city's 2006 murder rate at 96 per every 100,000 people.
The new study, by demographer Mark VanLandingham, aims to fix the main flaw in previous per capita murder estimates for 2006: It takes into account the large change in New Orleans' population during the year, with far fewer people in the city at the beginning of 2006 than at the end. That change raises the murder rate substantially.
For instance, using the highest static population estimate VanLandingham found in his research, 201,000, would produce a murder rate of about 80 per 100,000 people, still significantly lower than the new study's conclusion.
VanLandingham’s and my conclusions are about the same. The New Orleans murder rate is really high.
I don’t think it is fair to count the first quarter of 2006 because the city’s population was changing so much. That’s why I think it gives us a better view of how bad the problem is and how it continues to be a problem by counting from the second quarter of 2006 to today. In that (almost) 12-month period, I calculated a murder rate of 91 per 100,000 residents (based on a New Orleans population of 200,000, which VanLandingham views as on the high end of the estimates). Of course, my number also assumes that no more murders will happen in March.
I was surprised when I read the T-P article and found that my assumption of a New Orleans population of 200,000 was optimistic:
The New Orleans Emergency Operations Center conducted three separate estimates, with the most recent theorizing that about 181,000 people resided in New Orleans at the end of January 2006, Stone said.If New Orleans population today is 180,000, then our murder rate so far in 2007 (37 murders in 71 days) is 105 per 100,000 residents. Wow.
Other estimates have varied greatly. The U.S. Census Bureau's population estimate for Jan. 1, 2006, was 158,000. The Louisiana Public Health Institute estimated that the city boasted a population of about 201,000 between June and October.
Several demographers interviewed said the number is likely lower. Conservative estimates put the population under 200,000.
As I said in my last post on the murder rate, we are trending high. That is what worries me. It is possible to have a spate of violent incidents that could be considered an aberration, which would skew the numbers higher making the city seem more violent than it is.
Looking over the past four quarters of violent crime statistics, the number of murders per population is consistently high. There are no aberrations. For her population, New Orleans is a very violent city.
That, and about a hundred other things, is what worries me.