Murders in US Are Very Concentrated, and They Are Becoming Even More So

12 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2023

See all articles by John R. Lott

John R. Lott

Crime Prevention Research Center

Date Written: January 17, 2023


While murders and other violent crime in Los Angeles County and some other major urban areas have spread out to parts of those counties that didn’t previously experience much crime, nationwide murders appear to be coming even more concentrated in a small set of counties. When it comes to murder, there are three types of counties in the United States. Most counties experience no murders, a smaller set where there are a few murders, and then a tiny set of counties where murders are very common. In 2020, 52% of counties (with 10% of the population) had no murders. 68% of counties have no more than one murder, and about 18% of the population. These counties account for only 2.6% of all murders in the country. The worst 1% of counties (the worst 31 counties) have 21% of the population and 42% of the murders. The worst 2% of counties (62 counties) contain 31% of the population and 56% of the murders. The worst 5% of counties contain 47% of the population and account for 73% of murders. But even within those counties, the murders are very heavily concentrated in small areas.

Keywords: murder, county data, concentration of murder

JEL Classification: K2, K14, K32

Suggested Citation

Lott, John R., Murders in US Are Very Concentrated, and They Are Becoming Even More So (January 17, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

John R. Lott (Contact Author)

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

PO Box 2293
1100 W Kent Ave
Missoula, MT 59801
United States

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