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Greenland is one tough town

Americans (including me) don’t know much about other countries.

Jeff Lax sent me to this blog post by Myrddin pointing out that Belgium has a higher murder rate than the rest of Western Europe. I have no particular take on this, but it’s a good reminder that other countries differ from each other. Here in the U.S., we tend to think all western European countries are the same, all eastern European countries are the same, etc. In reality, Sweden is not Finland.

P.S. According to the Wiki, Greenland is one tough town. I guess there’s nothing much to do out there but watch satellite TV, chew the blubber, and kill people.

11 Comments

  1. Louis says:

    Some thoughts:
    -Murders are notoriously misreported. This week a forensic pathologist (on the Belgian radio) explained that we probably miss near 50% of the murders in Belgium. He explained that not all deaths are checked by well trained specialists and that an ordinary doctor, or even a pathologist lacking the specific training misses a lot of suspicious deaths. After that he want technical but her referred to research in Germany where for a while they did checked all deaths to see how much more suspicious deaths (he used a technical term I cannot translate in English) would be found.

    This makes for starters already a bit suspicious on “murder data” when comparing countries. Unless you would restrict yourself to muder by guns (I assume these type of deaths rarely go unnoticed).
    Differences in how countries deal with deaths, the amount of trained professionals or even the type of training they recieve could already account for the variation it seems.

    -Having lived in Belgium & the Netherlands, I can testify that Belgium is not the Netherlands, some provinces are however remarkably alike (even if few like to here it). As an example Belgian Limburg (10% of the country) and Dutch Limburg (5% of the Netherlands) are in many ways very similar.

    -It may be that the murder rate in Belgium is high. I have rarely felt unsafe or that there are a lot of murders. But Belgium is far from homogenous even if it so tiny.

    -I remember seeing some statistics which showed a murder rate in Belgium which appeared 7 times as high as in the Netherlands. If things look to suspicious to be true…

    Greetings from Belgium.

    • Nameless says:

      Misreporting, or applying different standards in different countries, is a notorious problem when you’re trying to compare crime rates. For example, Sweden is notable for having one of the highest assault rates in the developed world. When I was looking at it, I noticed that they seemed to have extremely broad standards for what was counted as “assault”, possibly extending to schoolchildren beating each other.

      One crime that’s rather hard to misreport is robbery. According to UNODC data, Belgium has astronomical robbery rates. The most recent figure is 1714 per 100,000. Among developed countries, the only one close is Spain with 1146. United States are at 115, most European countries are below 100, Netherlands are at 98. And it’s not a one-time glitch: 1714 is the _lowest_ rate recorded since 2003. I wonder what’s the story here.

    • Andrew says:

      Veel bedankt voor jouw informatie.

  2. Entsophy says:

    Comparing murder rates per 100,000 for a country like Greenland (~60k) with a country like the US (~315,000k) can be tricky. It’s unclear without more info if the spike in murders is unusual event that happens once every 100 years or if it that’s really how many people they’re murding on a regular basis.

    I saw an info website a few weeks back that showed cities with high murder rates. I was shocked to see that Reykjavik made the cut. I’ve been to Reykjavik and it’s easily the safest city and possibly the safest location I’ve ever been. Apparently they’ve had one murder recently though which gave the city a .5 per 100,000 murder rate: just enough to put it on the dangerous list.

    Also an interesting factoid to get Steve Sailer spun up:

    Greenland: ~10% European ~90% Inuit 11 murders out of ~56,000 people
    Iceland: almost ~100% European 1 murder out of ~320,000 people

  3. A. Zarkov says:

    Murder rates are not constant across demographic groups. Sex, race and age explain a lot of the variance in the murder rate. A community consisting of nothing but old white women would be a very safe one. On the other hand, a community consisting of young black men would have a very high murder rate. In the U.S., blacks have seven to ten times the murder rate of whites. Before you compare two places you need to adjust for differences in at least these three demographic variables. Only 12% of Greenland has European ancestry, the rest are Greenlandic Inuit. Before we go comparing murder rates between Greenland and Belgium, we need to take these difference into account.

    If you want to understand crime you need to know who is doing the crime.

  4. […] I looked at all this a while ago but was just sitting on it until a recent Andrew Gelman post that cites the UNODC statistics prompted me to do something with it. I know Gelman wouldn’t like the fact that I’m […]

  5. Anonymous says:

    Greenland’s population is ~56,000. That means only 6 murders would put them in the 10-15 category

  6. Nicholas says:

    While Greenland has a small population and this means that any murder highlights the rate, the important fact is that all countries are judged on the same standard per 100’000. Also one could argue that countries with bigger populations would naturally be disposed to higher murder rates given density and the fact that they are more hetrogenous