Baghdad murder rate, again

In July last year, Lott, armed with no evidence at all, claimed that Washington DC had a higher murder rate than Baghdad. Faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Lott stuck to his guns, even demanding that the New York Times “correct” an article and use Lott’s bogus murder rate. The whole discussion is here.

The New York Times has updated its figures:

April July October January
Annualized Murder
Rate in Baghdad
per 100,000 (DC rate 43)
70 130 100 100

The authors also explain how they worked out the murder rate:

Our best estimates on murder rates in Baghdad — a difficult calculation given that many Iraqi families are burying their own dead without notifying the authorities — indicate some improvement, but they are still far higher than in the most crime-ridden American cities. These murder numbers, it’s worth noting, are compiled using data from the Baghdad morgue, a wide array of news accounts and our conversations with American officials in Washington and Iraq. (Despite repeated requests, the Pentagon has not provided us with any figures of its own.)

Interesting. Lott claims he obtained his contradictory figures from the Pentagon.


  1. #1 blunted
    April 20, 2004

    This is all just a case of Lott’s racist nature. What do the majority of uninformed Americans, especially those living in white-bread rural America, think about when it comes to crime in D.C.? Black folks, of course… they don’t call it “Chocolate City” for nothin’.

    Not only is he comparing the black population of D.C. to the population of Iraq, which has been dehumanized and to an extent even demonized by some on the Right, he’s actually attempting to call them worse. Staggering, mind-blowing… but far from surprising, coming from the source.

  2. #2 liberal
    May 7, 2004

    …because DC is the most murderous city in the US, at least in 1999. So Lott just picked it in light of that fact. (According to my copy of the _Statistical Abstract of the US_ (2001 ed.), DC’s murder rate was 46.4 per 100,000. Next closest was Detroit, at 42.6.)

    Saying “blacks appear to commit murders at a higher rate than whites” is not a “racist” statement; it’s an empirical fact. What may or may not be racist is the attempted *explanation* of that fact. Racist explanations are usually those that “explain” by appeal to genetics based on race. Non-racist explanations refer to environmental factors such as poverty.

  3. #3 DanF
    May 18, 2004

    In April there were about two dozen U.S. deaths in Bagdhad due to hostile action. Are these included? Are combat deaths considered homicide?

    Typically, combat deaths wouldn’t (nor should be) included in homicide deaths. Unfortunately, Lott is trying to imply that Bagdhad is as safe as Washington D.C. thanks to armed citizens, when clearly it is not. Perhaps if we included Bagdhad combat deaths (both U.S. and Iraqi) we’d have a clearer picture of citizen safety.

  4. #4 Art
    May 28, 2004

    “Does this include combat fatalities?” This is the right question. The fact the orignal post makes no reference to this possibility exposes the authors bias. Baghdad may infact have a lower homocide rate than D.C.. It is impossible to make a claim either way without reliable data.

  5. #5 Tim Lambert
    May 28, 2004

    Art, if you had bothered to read the discussion I linked to, you would know that Baghdad has a much higher murder rate than DC, whether or not combat fatalities are included.

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