Measuring Murder Risk? Study Finds “It’s All About Whom You Know”


A study by Yale sociologists found that some accepted metrics of vulnerability to becoming a homicide victim such as race, gang membership or physical proximity to a murder victim, are less important than one’s social network. In other words, says NPR, it’s all about whom you know. The risk involves “how people are connected, the structure of the overall network, the types of behaviors occurring in the network and an individual’s position in the overall structure,” the authors write in the American Journal of Public Health.

Andrew Papachristos and Christopher Wildeman looked at 3,718 high-risk individuals living in a 6-square-mile area of Chicago with some of the city’s highest murder rates. They modeled the odds of someone’s becoming a gunshot homicide victim by individual characteristics, including network position and indirect exposure to homicide. The social networks the authors are talking about have nothing to do with Facebook or Twitter. They concluded that “Network exposure to homicide was strongly associated with victimization: the closer one is to a homicide victim, the greater the risk of victimization.”

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