U.S. murder rate was higher when Ronald Reagan was president
It won’t be until later this year that the federal government releases its official statistics on murder in America during 2016, but we already know enough to dispel certain popular myths.
We’ve all heard, for example, that homicides were frighteningly common in Chicago last year. In reality, however, Chicago ranked 8th among U.S. big cities in its per capita murder rate, according to preliminary figures. In descending order of murders committed, higher rates were recorded in St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland, Newark and Memphis.
Yes, Chicago had more murders than any of those other cities, but it also has a larger population.
Donald Trump, ever the demagogue, says the increase in murders in the past few years are evidence of a breakdown in law and order under President Obama. But the fact remains that the per capita murder rate was considerably higher when Ronald Reagan was in the White House than it’s been under Obama.
Through Reagan’s eight years in office, murder rates ranged from 8 to 10 per 100,000 residents. The rate through Obama’s eight years as president has consistently been less than 6 per 100,000 residents.
Murder rates in America began to soar in the mid-1960s, peaked in the late 1970s and began to drop sharply in the mid-1990s. Through the first 16 years of the 21st century, rates have been considerably lower than during the 1970s and 1980s.
There’s more on all of this at FiveThirtyEight.com.