U.S. spousal homicide rates by racial composition of marriage

  • Roberts J
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Purpose: American spousal homicide rates persistently and substantially vary by racial composition of the married couple. Analyses examined different racial couple types' spousal homicide rates in light of nonspousal homicide victimization and offending rates and couple types' average social, demographic, and economic characteristics. Methods: Analyses used 2003 to 2007 spousal homicide data from Supplementary Homicide Reports for which missing data have been multiply imputed. Current Population Survey data provided estimates of the number and average characteristics of different couple types. Log-linear models related couple types' differing spousal homicide rates to different race-sex groups' general rates of homicide victimization and offending and couple types' average characteristics. Results: Among couple types with at least 50,000 couples, annual rates of male-on-female spousal homicide ranged from 0.95 to 8.76 per 100,000 couples; for female-on-male spousal homicide, this range was 0.13 to 2.29. Rates somewhat reflect different race-sex groups' nonspousal homicide activity, but with greater gender disparity and an excess of spousal homicide in some couple types. The association between victim's and offender's race is parsimoniously described by models using couple types' average characteristics (proportion with female's education exceeding the male's, proportion in central cities, and relative frequency). Conclusions: General homicidal-violence reduction strategies may partly apply to spousal homicide, but specifically targeted efforts are required too. Interventions must address different couple types' particular social, economic, and cultural experiences.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Health status disparities
  • Homicide
  • Spouses
  • United States

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  • John M. Roberts

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