Old habits die hard: Assessing the validity of using homicide as an indicator of other violent crimes

Published date01 May 2024
AuthorJolien van Breen,Arnaldo Rabolini,Marieke Liem
Date01 May 2024
Subject MatterArticles
Old habits die hard: Assessing
the validity of using homicide as
an indicator of other violent
Jolien van Breen , Arnaldo Rabolini,
and Marieke Liem
Leiden University, The Netherlands
Homicide statistics are often used as an indicator for violent crime more generally. In this work,
we evaluate the empirical support for this convention in a Western European context, specif‌ically
the Netherlands. Using data from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and from the Dutch Homicide
Monitor, we compare homicide rates to rates of other violent crimes between 2010 and 2020.
Results show that homicide and violent crimes are related in a general sense, but it is diff‌icult
to say what those relationships look like concretely. In other words, there is an empirical relation-
ship between homicide and the overarching concept of violent crime, but relationships between
homicide and individual violent crimes vary considerably. Based on these f‌indings, we advise that
researchers tread carefully when using homicide as an indicator of violent crime.
Crime indicator, homicide, quantitative analysis, violent crime
Homicides are frequently used as an indicator of crime more generally, particularly
violent crime. For example, in cross-national studies, homicide rates have been widely
employed to indicate crime levels in each of the countries under study (Nivette, 2011).
This is mostly because, compared to other types of crimes, homicides tend to be more
precisely registered and homicide data is usually more complete (Oberwittler, 2019;
Smit et al., 2012). The reason for better registration of homicide statistics relative to
other crimes is quite simple: homicides leave a body behind and as such it is less
likely that this type of event will remain unreported (Liem, 2022; Ouimet and
Corresponding author:
Jolien van Breen, Leiden University, Turfmarkt 99, 2511DP Den Haag, The Netherlands.
Email: j.a.van.breen@fgga.leidenuniv.nl
European Journal of Criminology
2024, Vol. 21(3) 452466
© The Author(s) 2023
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/14773708231211170

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