Is Gun Violence Stunting Business Growth?

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Photo by Bart Everson via Flickr

Photo by Bart Everson via Flickr

Photo by Bart Everson via Flickr

Rising rates of gun homicides may be associated with decreases in economic activity, including reduced employment and lower business creation, a preliminary study by the Urban Institute says.

Researchers examined the association between gun violence and the economic health of neighborhoods in Minneapolis; Oakland, Ca; and Washington DC by tracking a variety of economic data with gun homicide rates between 2010 and 2012, and found what they termed a “significant relationship” between such violence and “the ability of businesses to open, operate and grow.”

In Oakland, for instance, they found that every additional gun homicide in a specific census tract in a given year was “statistically significantly associated with fewer job opportunities in contracting  businesses…the next year,” defined by a loss in employees. In Washington, every additional gun homicide was “significantly” associated with two fewer retail and service establishments the following year.

Minneapolis, in contrast, where gun homicides remained level during the study period (and mirrored the national rate), the study found that city employment and the number of retail and service businesses increased.

The study, funded by the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Inc—a prominent gun control advocacy group—represents preliminary findings in what the researchers say will be a larger longitudinal study which will examine six cities—including the three already mentioned, and Rochester, NY; San Francisco; and Baton Rouge, LA.

In a release accompanying the report, the Urban Institute noted that the finding suggest the economic impact of gun homicide goes well beyond individual communities and “could be a key factor in continuing cycles of poverty.”

The authors of the preliminary report are Yasemin Irvin-Erickson, Bing Bai, Annie Gurvis, and Edward Mohr. Irvin-Erickson and Bai are research associates at the Urban Institute; Gurvis and Mohr are research assistants.

A full copy of the report is available here.

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