Alan Watt said:
However, what effect did WW-I have on the age-distribution of the population?
I would expect the percentage of 18-25 year-olds in the general population
to be reduced due to war casualties. In the U.S., this is the age group
which accounts for most of the violent crime.
Here are the percentages of the population of NSW that were between 18
and 25 inclusive at each census year:
Male Female 1911 8.4% 8.2% 1921 6.4% 7.1% 1933 7.3% 7.0%
This suggests that the male percentage would have been 7.4 in 1921 were
it not for the Great War. However, I suspect that this overestimates
the effects of the war – see below.
Also, I don’t know how Australian military forces are organized, but in
G.B., they are (or were at the time) grouped in units by geographical
area. That is, each regiment would be composed of people from the same
place. A unit which got wiped out therefore consisted of a lot of
neighbors and relatives. If the war casualties did have a significant
effect on the age distribution of the population most likely to commit
violent crime, it would also tend to have a very high regional variation,
or at least higher than the same casualty rates would have on the U.S.,
which deliberately homogenizes its forces.
I don’t think losses were proportionately more in NSW than elsewhere.
I also don’t know the Australian casualties in WW-I;
60,000 dead, or 1.2% of the entire population. This suggests that the
calculation above, which suggests that 1% of the population, or 80% of
the deaths occured in the age group 18-25 in 1921, which was the age
group 11-18 at the start of the war and 15-22 at the end, overstates
the effect of the war on the 18-25 group.
In any case, this could explain part of the decline that followed gun
control, but not all, since the percentage decline in the homicide
rate was greater than the percentage decline in the fraction of the
population male 18-25. Furthermore, while males 18-25 are the most
likely to murder, they are responsible for only 25% of the homicides
in NSW. (This was measured over the period 1968-1981, so may perhaps
Do you think it would be interesting to recalculate the homicide
rates, using not the actual population, but the population weighted by
age groups, with the weights being the fraction of homicides committed
by that age group. This should correct for demographic change.