Changing Patterns of Homicide and Social Policy in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and St. Louis, 1980-1994 (ICPSR 2729)
Principal Investigator(s): Zahn, Margaret A., North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
This study sought to assess changes in the volume and types of homicide committed in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and St. Louis from 1980 to 1994 and to document the nature of those changes. Three of the eight cities originally studied by Margaret Zahn and Marc Riedel (NATURE AND PATTERNS OF HOMICIDE IN EIGHT AMERICAN CITIES, 1978 [ICPSR 8936]) were revisited for this data collection. In each city, police records were coded for each case of homicide occurring in the city each year from 1980 to 1994. Homicide data for St. Louis were provided by the St. Louis Homicide Project with Scott Decker and Richard Rosenfeld as the principal investigators. Variables describing the event cover study site, year of the case, date and time of assault, location of fatal injury, method used to kill the victim, and circumstances surrounding the death. Variables pertaining to offenders include total number of homicide and assault victims, number of offenders arrested, number of offenders identified, and disposition of event for offenders. Variables on victims focus on whether the victim was killed at work, if the victim was using drugs or alcohol, the victim's blood alcohol level, and the relationship of the victim to the offender. Demographic variables include age, sex, race, and marital status of victims and offenders.
These data are freely available.
Zahn, Margaret A. Changing Patterns of Homicide and Social Policy in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and St. Louis, 1980-1994. ICPSR02729-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1999. doi:10.3886/ICPSR02729.v1
Persistent URL: http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02729.v1
This study was funded by:
- United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (95-IJ-CX-0115)
Scope of Study
Date of Collection:
Unit of Observation: Individuals.
Universe: Homicide cases in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and St. Louis during 1980-1994.
Data Types: administrative records data
Data Collection Notes:
For Part 1, Philadelphia Data, face sheets were used in 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, and 1993 as opposed to full case files. For these years, some variables have an excessive amount of missing data. Users should exercise caution when analyzing the data for those years, specifically with respect to victim-offender relationship, circumstance, and drug or alcohol use by the victim.
Data on alcohol and drug use by victims are not available for St. Louis.
Users of Part 2, St. Louis Data, must acknowledge that the data were supplied to this project by the St. Louis Homicide Project.
Study Purpose: Although homicide rates declined in many cities in the late 1990s, the rate of homicide in cities with populations over 250,000 increased significantly during the 1980s. In addition, there were major changes in the characteristics of homicide. The most striking changes involved the increase in homicide victimization and offending among young males, especially those 18 and under. At the same time, research on homicide has pointed to, but not fully documented, the importance of community characteristics in relation to changing levels of violence. Theoretical advances have suggested that it is important to locate events in their cultural context and to examine changes in context and the resulting patterns of violence. The researchers undertook a multiple-city study of homicide rather than a single-city study to allow for better generalizability regarding patterns of homicide and circumstances that trigger changes in patterns. Further, by examining the problem from an individual, case-level perspective, the study sought to assess changes in volume and types of homicide over time and to document the nature of those changes.
Study Design: In an earlier study by Margaret Zahn and Marc Riedel (NATURE AND PATTERNS OF HOMICIDE IN EIGHT AMERICAN CITIES, 1978 [ICPSR 8936]), data were collected on homicide in eight cities representing the four regions of the United States. These sites had representative overall patterns of homicide for large cities in their regions. Initially, this study was to return to four of the eight cities, with one city again representing each region: Philadelphia in the Northeast, St.Louis in the Midwest, Dallas in the South, and Phoenix in the West. However, Dallas was dropped and only three of the original eight cities were retained because (1) the researchers had maintained contact with personnel in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and St. Louis, which facilitated securing the data from those sources, (2) these cities had witnessed substantial increases in the homicide rate, and each had demonstrated changes in patterns of the victim-offender relationship, as measured by the limited Uniform Crime Report data, and (3) cost prohibited research in more sites. In each city, police records were coded for each case of homicide occurring in the city each year from 1980 to 1994. Collecting information on all homicide events rather than sampling cases had two major advantages. First, sampling could produce inadvertent biases in types of cases and/or too few cases of a particular type for analysis purposes. Second, analysis of the universe of cases in each site enabled direct comparability with databases that were collected under other auspices and included all cases over multiple years.
homicide records from Philadelphia, Phoenix, and St. Louis police departments
Description of Variables: Selected variables salient to understanding homicide were measured in order to examine changes in the nature of homicide in urban areas. Variables describing the event cover study site, year of the case, date and time of assault, location of fatal injury, method used to kill the victim, and circumstances surrounding the death. Variables pertaining to offenders include total number of homicide and assault victims, number of offenders arrested, number of offenders identified, and disposition of event for offenders. Variables on victims focus on whether the victim was killed at work, if the victim was using drugs or alcohol, the victim's blood alcohol level, and the relationship of the victim to the offender. Demographic variables include age, sex, race, and marital status of victims and offenders.
Response Rates: Not applicable.
Presence of Common Scales: None.
Extent of Processing: ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:
- Standardized missing values.
- Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.
Original ICPSR Release: 1999-12-29
- 2006-03-30 File CB2729.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
- 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.
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