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Baghdad's Murder Rate Revised

Back in June, I used reports from Baghdad's morgues and available statistics to take a guess at Baghdad's murder rate:

According to Wikipedia, Baghdad's estimated population as of 2005 is 7,400,000. That makes Baghdad's murder rate 195.41 per 100,000 residents.

According to this page, the murder rate for the US in 2004 was 5.5 per 100,000 residents. That means you're 35.53 times more likely to be murdered in Baghdad as you are in the US. But perhaps it isn't fair to compare an urban area to an entire nation. Fine. According to this page, the highest murder rate of any US city in 2002 was that of Washington, DC, at 45.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. That means you're 4.27 times more likely to be murdered in Baghdad as you are in the most dangerous city in the US.

This wasn't shocking enough for some people, who made comments like:

I think it is quite amazing that it is only 4X more likely to be murdered in Baghdad in the middle of an emerging civil war than in Washington D.C.
Perhaps the latest news will make such people sit up and take notice:
A United Nations report released Wednesday says that 5,106 people in Baghdad died violent deaths during July and August, a number far higher than reports that have relied on figures from the city’s morgue...

The report also describes evidence of torture on many of the bodies found in Baghdad, including gouged-out eyeballs and wounds from nails, power drills and acid. “Hundreds of bodies have continued to appear throughout the country bearing signs of severe torture and execution-style killing,” the report found.

As Baghdad has become the main stage for intensified sectarian fighting, the counting of the dead has become a contentious issue. Some American officials say figures released by the Baghdad morgue are inflated. The United Nations report includes the morgue’s figures of 1,855 killed in July and 1,536 killed in August. But it also counts bodies received at other hospitals in the city.

5,106 deaths over a two-month period equals a yearly rate of 30,636. Using the statistics from my original post, this equals a murder rate of 414.0 per 100,000 residents. That makes one 75.27 times as likely to be murdered in Baghdad as in the US as a whole, and 9.04 times as likely to be murdered in Baghdad as in the most dangerous city in the US, Washington, DC.


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