Data InsightsHomicide rates have declined dramatically over the centuries
June 11, 2024Bastian Herre

Homicide rates have declined dramatically over the centuries

Line chart showing that homicide rates have declined a lot in England, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France over the last eight centuries.

It is hard to imagine just how violent the past was.

The chart shows that in the 13th and 14th centuries, based on data from researcher Manuel Eisner, homicide rates across Western Europe were higher than 10 murders per 100,000 people in a year. In Italy, the rate was as high as 70 murders per 100,000 people.

Since then, murder rates have fallen significantly across these countries. According to data from WHO’s Mortality Database, their homicide rate is now around 1 murder per 100,000 people — less than a tenth of what it used to be.

Despite these improvements, homicides remain a common cause of death globally and are even a leading cause in some countries. But significant and lasting reductions in violence between people are possible.

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