Why is the Midwest So Murderous?


As you probably don’t know, I live in Omaha, NE. Home to Warren Buffet, and a gaggle of Fortune 500 companies (they are over-represented, in fact). The last few years, I have been working with nonprofits, and one thing has always caused me to scratch my head:

Why is the murder rate in the midwest so wildly high?

From Neighborhood Scout, ordered in severity:

Kansas City, KS

Chicago, IL

Omaha, NE

New York, NY

Los Angeles, CA

Raleigh, NC

(Note: The cities above are not a random sampling)

Chicago supposedly has the highest violent crime rate…but not the highest murder rate here by far. Omaha isn’t really that far behind Chicago in murders (and the rate is rising) at 10 per 100,000. This is on par with the largest cities in the United States, but wildly out of line with cities of similar population that are not in the Midwest. Tulsa, OK also also has wildly high murder rates.

What gives? Is there an inordinate amount of lead hanging around in the middle of the country?

Possibly related: Omaha also has an inordinate amount of heavy alcohol use. Are we just bored so we drink like fish and kill eachother?

Update: In the course of writing this post, I forgot what sparked it. It was Tyler Cowen.

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