10 U.S. States With The Highest Murder Rates

Name the U.S. states that had the highest murder rates in 2018.
Murder rate = murders per 100,000 residents
Change = change since 1996
Quiz by bobduncan37
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Last updated: October 16, 2019
First submittedJanuary 29, 2017
Times taken20,367
Rating4.29
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Murder Rate
Change
State
11.4
-35%
Louisiana
9.9
+22%
Missouri
8.1
-30%
Maryland
8.0
-30%
New Mexico
7.8
-25%
Alabama
Murder Rate
Change
State
7.7
-14%
South Carolina
7.4
-22%
Tennessee
7.2
-17%
Arkansas
6.9
-31%
Illinois
6.7
-51%
Nevada
+31
Level ∞
Aug 6, 2018
For comparison:
  • El Salvador: 84.8
  • Saint Louis: 59.7
  • Chicago: 28.1
  • New York City: 3.4
  • New Hampshire: 1.3
  • United Kingdom: 1.2
  • Japan: 0.28
+7
Level 87
Aug 7, 2018
Does anyone have an idea of what is it about Japan (the people, the country, politics, etc) that mean the people are, apparently, nicer to each other or at least obviously less violent?
+33
Level 41
Aug 7, 2018
Very restricted immigration and smart and bright native population.
+22
Level 73
Aug 7, 2018
A lot of it is cultural as well. The family structure in Japan is much stronger than in other cultures. I believe that constantly being surrounded by family has a positive impact on an individual that manifests itself in all kinds of ways, including not killing each other.
+29
Level 83
Aug 7, 2018
Might have something to do with guns and swords being mostly forbidden as well: "Japanese law, however, starts with the 1958 act stating that “No person shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords,” later adding a few exceptions. In other words, American law is designed to enshrine access to guns, while Japan starts with the premise of forbidding it." - Much harder to kill someone with a knife or with bare hands.
+21
Level 65
Aug 7, 2018
Japan has virtually zero immigration from the 3rd world. They have a homogenous population with common values, culture, and respect for one another and their country.
+6
Level 52
Aug 7, 2018
Wiki lists Irvine, CA as having pretty much the lowest rates for all categories, with a violent crime rate less than half of the next lowest city.
The 2010 census shows Asians accounted for around 45% of the city's population then and likely the majority now.
+9
Level 64
Aug 8, 2018
I visited Japan for two weeks less than two months ago, and the efficiency, organization, and common decency among the people is positively mind-blowing. I befriended some people and I was so awestruck by their society that I just outright asked them how they did it, and their answer was just that, more than any other ethic, they are taught from birth to always be polite and to never be the person that disrupts harmony. They don't get all rah-rah about jingoism (I saw one Japanese flag while I was there -- at the Hiroshima memorial). They don't fuss about silly things. They just handle their business. It was positively remarkable. Having said that, one can't ignore that Japan is ethnically homogenous and geographically isolated. That makes it much easier to run a society. The pressure to be "proper" (in behavior and life) also causes a lot of depression and suicide (as the numbers show). But still, it's my favorite place I've ever been. I can't wait to go back.
+2
Level 58
Aug 8, 2018
Murder rate is something that doesn't necessarily reflect on a society as a whole. Murders are such a rare event even in the areas with the highest murder rates that the cause for each murder has to be something that is one-off, or at least very rare. It is possible that a high murder rate reflects generally low levels of morality in a society, but it is also possible that it reflects a polarised society. Emphasis on the community as a whole and fitting in might reduce or increase polarisation, although if it is relevant here it would seem to reduce it. There could also be other factors at play here.
+4
Level 71
Aug 31, 2018
In the US more immigration correlates to lower crime rates. I'd also argue that it is a cause. Japan and Korea share many characteristics, and one of them is low crime and murder rates. One reason in Korea is cctv cameras EVERYWHERE. Also constant watching by others in person. I think also the suppression of losing one's temper is considered admirable (although Koreans are hot-tempered) so blustering in a bar fight and brandishing a weapon would be OTT here, unlike in the US.
+5
Level 58
Aug 31, 2018
Because it is a homogeneous society and culture. Say what you will about all the joys of diversity, blah blah, but there's no question that in cultures/countries where everybody lives by the same standards/rules/expectations people seem to be easier to govern (control?), can communicate better, etc....
+4
Level 55
Aug 31, 2018
Japanese citizens are more likely to commit violence against themselves. Very high suicide rate.
+7
Level 46
Aug 31, 2018
Wasn't too long ago they were murdering each other or invading other Asian countries and murdering them. It's not like they had a flood immigration throughout those years. There's been plenty of immigration and migration throughout Europe and those homicide rates are very low as well. To solely put the reasoning on immigration is inaccurate.
+13
Level 79
Sep 1, 2018
People who talk about the wonders of homogeneity are *probably* racist (and some other unsavory things). Not always. But often.
+2
Level 60
Jan 29, 2019
Surely there is nothing more inherently smart or bright about the Japanese than any other culture--what a ridiculous notion. The xenophobia (allophobia?) in this thread is shocking. Also, there is a hidden downside to Japan's homogeneity: suffocating conformity and troubling sexism that confounds the year 2019. I always enjoy visiting Japan but know that its rich cultural product comes at a high price.
+1
Level 81
Oct 16, 2019
The best summary of the Japanese attitude I have heard is "respect for others". In many situations Japanese will go out of their way to show that respect and tolerate something that they may disagree with.
+1
Level 69
Dec 15, 2019
Probably a big factor is that Japan is much older. Younger people are much more likely to murder or be murdered.
+2
Level 64
Dec 15, 2019
Oh, calm down. No one is advocating for ethnic purity or expressing xenophobia (well, maybe that one guy who mockingly touted "the joys of diversity"). It is a fact that Japan ranks near the top of the most ethnically homogenous countries in the world. People can consider how that plays a role in shaping their society. I'm a proud and committed progressive (globalist, multiculturalist, whatever you want to call it), but this insistence that we need to cry "racism!" at the mere mention of differences among cultures is preposterous. People can have thoughtful, good-faith discussions about differences and how they play out. You don't need to add 8,000 qualifiers or shoehorn in irrelevant points just to assuage the collective social anxiety around discussions of different cultures and broadcast to everyone how evolved you are.
+1
Level 72
Dec 15, 2019
It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Immigrants are often seen as dangerous/dirty/lazy/taking our jobs, which puts them in a worse, and often separate position in society. Even without outright racism and intention, because of language and cultural barriers and lack of connections, they are more likely to end up perspectiveless, and from there crime is a likely next step. However, depending on the kind of society, this trend can be minimized, and because of other positive effects, immigration can still be a net gain for both sides. If we even want to consider gains when it comes to this issue.
+2
Level 50
Dec 16, 2019
Japanese people have low immigration due to them being very xenophobic to foreigners. When I was last in Japan (Yokohama) I walked down the street and literally everybody looked at me and pointed and said stuff I didn’t understand because I’m Russian
+2
Level 64
Dec 20, 2019
I need to clarify that I was not talking about immigrants with my comment re homogeneity making things easier, or trying to draw a direct cause-effect connection re multiculturalism and gun violence. I was speaking first about how Japan's culture is built around harmony and cooperation. I then mused that having a population that is 98% from the same ethnicity likely makes it easier to agree upon what is socially acceptable because those people more likely have the same basic views. To westerners, that sounds like a comment on immigration, but it's not. I just meant that having fewer distinct social groups means fewer opportunities for discord among those groups. I should add both that "easier" does not necessarily mean "better," and reaching consensus more easily is only good if the consensus (and the culture) are built around good ideas. The US had easier consensuses in the 1830's when only one culture, moneyed white men, had a say. But of course those views were not great.
+1
Level 32
Apr 19, 2020
the suicide rate is massive tho
+11
Level 58
Aug 7, 2018
Even though there are still some pretty violent places in America it's nice to see that overall the murder rate has dropped a lot in most of these states since the 90s. Only if we had more gun control...
+4
Level 73
Aug 7, 2018
Well actually gun regulations are weaker now than they were in the 90s. They don't have much to do with the crime rate.
+5
Level 65
Aug 8, 2018
UK is a good example. They have restrictive gun laws just like Japan but people find a way around it. UK has acid attacks, nail bombs, van rammings, beheadings, knife attacks, hatchet attacks, etc. If somebody wants to cause damage they'll find a way.
+20
Level 58
Aug 8, 2018
The UK still has a considerably lower murder rate than the USA.
+16
Level 67
Aug 8, 2018
If acid, nail bombs, knives, hatchets, etc. are all just as dangerous as guns, then why do people make such a big deal about having guns to protect themselves? Why not just have a knife, if it's equally as dangerous as a gun?
+13
Level 69
Aug 11, 2018
The trouble with your comment 'TinklePork' is that the USA also has Nail Bombs, van rammings, beheading, knife attacks, machete attacks etc. etc. plus a terrible murder rate.
+20
Level 63
Aug 16, 2018
Beheadings! Yeah, they're an everyday occurrence in the UK. You may want to visit sometime. Always useful to base a comment on your own experience and/or on facts.
+20
Level 71
Aug 31, 2018
I don't know about that - I can't seem to get to the shops these days without being beheaded. It's getting really annoying.
+2
Level 72
Aug 31, 2018
You're right to a large extent, Bernard, but recent evidence is showing stricter gun laws do lead to a slightly lower murder rate. That runs contrary to the pro-gun lobby's claims - but its always convoluted as cities with stronger laws are often surrounded by areas with extremely weak laws (ie, Chicago, surrounded by Indiana and Wisconsin's weak laws). What actually does show more of an impact than anything else is reduced lead exposure - this exposure is known to not only harm intellectual development, but result in more violent tendencies. As we've eliminated leaded gas and leaded paint, lead exposure levels have plummeted, followed by perfectly correlated declines in violent crime rates, delayed by 15-20 years (ie, the time it takes for kids to grow up). Unfortunately, many poverty-stricken areas never have had good lead paint removal programs. We'd rather spend a fortune to incarcerate them than to fix the problem on the cheap.
+6
Level 72
Oct 25, 2019
I've lived in the UK on and off for nearly half a century, and I've only been beheaded a few times. Funny thing - it grows back slightly different each time
+1
Level 71
Oct 24, 2019
There are more guns in more hands now than there were in the 90s. If we went by your thinking, that it is a gun issue, there would be MORE murders, not less.
+1
Level 64
Dec 15, 2019
This is a simplistic approach though. Gun possession being *a* cause of violence does not mean gun possession is *the* cause of violence. There are other variables at work, so you can't just draw to a direct causation between guns and violence or the lack of violence. If I start eating ice cream everyday, but also start running ten miles daily and cut all soda and white starch out of my diet, I'll probably lose weight. But that doesn't change the fact that ice cream is fatty and makes people gain weight. It's just that there are other variable offsetting its effects. I think this is true of the entire conversation around guns. Both sides fixate on whichever factor is most beneficial to their cause (gun possession or "mental health"), and ignore all the other factors like access to education, community activism, interactions with police, poverty, drug epidemics, etc.
+11
Level 57
Aug 8, 2018
Interesting how the places with the highest murder rates in the US are pro-gun Southern states. Six are Deep South and only two are fully outside the South (NV and IL).
+10
Level 64
Aug 8, 2018
And Illinois is very likely on the list because of the violence epidemic on Chicago's South Side and West Side, where most of the guns are imported from nearby Indiana, which also has very lax gun laws.
+1
Level 15
Aug 31, 2018
Yeah, I live in Illinois and put it in as a joke, but then it accepted the answer. Then I remembered that Chicago exists.
+9
Level 72
Aug 10, 2018
Also, sadly, poverty, and lack of education (which go together with each other, as well as with crime).
+1
Level 78
Aug 10, 2018
Samiamco, I think you are correct and I think we can add drug dependency/abuse to the list- unless that's what you meant when you said crime. I've lived in five of the states on the list including the only one with an increase and they can be very scary places. I am surprised to see Maryland on here instead of Michigan.
+1
Level 72
Aug 31, 2018
Maryland is on here because of Baltimore - which represents a bit over 10% of Maryland's total pop. Michigan's problematic areas, primarily Detroit, Flint, and Benton Harbor, represent under 8% of Michigan's total pop, and all. So Baltimore, with it murder rate higher than Detroit or Flint or Benton Harbor, has an outsized impact. Often people hear the news headlines and miss the underlying facts. For example, the city of Detroit is only roughly 1/6th of the total population of Metro Detroit. So they hear about high murder rates in Detroit and conflate that with high murder rates around the entire metro region, when most of it is in fact very safe. Or they hear about high numbers of murders in Chicago and assume its a complete war zone, when in fact many cities in the US have equally high or higher murder rates (St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Cleveland, etc)...
+1
Level 44
Aug 31, 2018
NV (Nevada) is sort of south. Just not south-east. Illinois seems to be the only exception here, probably because of Chicago.
+2
Level 57
Aug 31, 2018
Illinois is also certainly affected by East St. Louis.
+1
Level 80
Oct 16, 2019
Nevada is not considered part of what the U.S. calls the South with a capital S, i.e., the southeast, the old southern part of the country before westward expansion. Hawaii, the most southern state by latitude is not the Deep South.
+1
Level 68
Oct 18, 2019
Nevada is not remotely part of the South. And most of the murders occur in Las Vegas, which is hardly a "red" city. Most of the murders there are either gang related or a result of their wonderful neighbor state releasing dozens upon dozens of felons who then go next door and commit violent crimes.
+1
Level 65
Aug 26, 2019
That’s was my strategy, I just started naming off red states, suddenly I had 8/10. They have a solution to the epidemic though...more guns lol
+2
Level 78
Aug 8, 2018
Sad that my state of Missouri had an increase. I'm guessing St. Louis is responsible for that.
+1
Level 78
Aug 10, 2018
Ander, I'm sure that St Louis plays a big part in it, but don't forget Kansas City. You recently mentioned a movie, "Winter's Bone" that pretty accurately depicts the conditions that occur in the Ozarks and even our sleepy little Bootheel is experiencing its share of crime. It is indeed very sad.
+1
Level 78
Sep 1, 2018
I found the 2018 FBI crime report for Missouri and it seems we're both wrong. It includes all violent crimes, but I didn't see anything from the KC area. However, St Louis and its suburbs totaled only four, with one, Poplar Bluff, in the Bootheel area. (I know heroin is a problem there.) The remaining ones were in the southwest part of the state - Springfield, Branson, Joplin, Bolivar, and Nevada. As you said, maybe it's the "Winter's Bone" issue of drugs. We own a few acres in the Ozarks and meth is still a real problem over there. I've lived in the Bootheel region all my life except for college years, but I never thought of us as "sleepy". We are rural, but I'd describe us as rowdy rather than sleepy. Boys driving the backroads in their duallys on weekends, drinking, or taking opioids to have a good time, and some dying in the process. The three young men I knew who died of drug overdoses were educated and came from families who were in business or law. Poverty wasn't the reason.
+1
Level 58
Aug 31, 2018
They all have miserably humid and uncomfortable hot weather in the summer---with the single exception of Nevada, which just has plain DRY and uncomfortable hot weather.
+3
Level 64
Aug 31, 2018
Not sure whether the humidity plays a large role, but I do know that in Chicago, where I live, the first nice weekend of the year is usually the most violent. The winters here are long, and once it gets nice, all the kids in crime-ridden areas get outside and get themselves into trouble. There are way fewer murders in the winter than in the summer just because fewer people are outside looking for trouble in the brutal Chicago winter weather. I have no evidence in support, but I suspect the fact that it's always warm in a lot of these places boosts their numbers.
+1
Level 43
Sep 2, 2018
I was a bit surprised not to see Michigan because of the murders in Detroit.
+1
Level 53
Apr 9, 2019
Another easy one. All across the South, mostly.
+1
Level 46
Jul 30, 2019
Is there a link between violence and climate? It seems that most of the countries./ states with warmer climates have higher murder rates. Possibly as simple as ppl spending more time outdoors and more diverse interaction? Obviously not the ONLY factor but could be a social indicator?
+1
Level 72
Dec 15, 2019
Most of the countries with warmer climates are also poorer, and poverty is a breeding ground for crime.
+1
Level 44
Dec 20, 2019
I don't think it's a factor in that sense, but it is a useful measure of how correlation doesn't always directly equal causation. In Australia the homicide rate always slightly spikes during the summer months. The reason isn't because of the temperatures per se, but because most homicides are domestic homicides, and during summer, families (especially the kids) tend to spend more time around each other.
+1
Level 68
Oct 17, 2019
People always talk about how kind Southerners are.....
+4
Level 72
Dec 15, 2019
Maybe 99,9% are nice and 0,1% are murderers?
+1
Level 62
Dec 17, 2019
I see comments above regarding low murder rate in Japan. But just out of curiosity what is the murder rate in a place like Saudi Arabia? I’m genuinely asking because I think they have a low murder rate as well but I’m assuming it’s not because of homogeneity as is claimed in above comments for Japan. So what then would be the reason? I’m just trying to suggest that it could be a different angle to debate from.
+1
Level ∞
Dec 17, 2019
The murder rate in Saudi Arabia is quite low, although still 6.5 times higher than Japan. It sounds stupid, but having a low murder rate is about having a low number of murderers. The vast majority of people would simply never commit murder in any circumstance. But if the cultural conditions are right, some people will consider violence. Japan's culture and homogeneity mean they have almost none of those people. But an equally homogeneous society could have an extremely high murder rate if violence was part of the culture.
+1
Level 64
Dec 20, 2019
I need to clarify (based on some responses) that my comment did not intend to suggest that Japan had a low murder rate *because* it is homogeneous. I was saying that Japan's murder rate is low because its whole society is built around harmony and cooperation. I then mused, in a freewheeling way, that the fact that 98% of the country shares the same ethnicity is likely *one* of the factors that makes it easier for them to find common ground when setting those social norms and encouraging cooperation. Your comment has made me rephrase my original statement: when you have a largely homogeneous culture, it is more likely the citizenry as a whole will have a shared general view of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. There is no guarantee those views will be enlightened though.