Study Finds Young Black Women Are Six Times More Likely to Be Murdered Than White Women

A new study, led by Bernadine Waller, a research fellow at Columbia University, has found that on average, Black women under age 45 in the United States are six times more likely to be murdered than White women of the same age group. To investigate the disparities in homicidal death rates in the United States, the Columbia University research team analyzed records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiology Research system, specifically data for women aged 25 to 44 between 1999 and 2020.

The researchers discovered that over the past 20 years, Black women were murdered at a rate of 11.6 per 100,000 population, compared to a rate of 2.9 per 100,000 among White women. This average was consistent, with virtually no difference between the rates in 1999 compared to 2020. However, across 11 states, the inequity between Black women and White women homicides increased over the 20-year time period. Wisconsin had the greatest disparity, where young Black women were 20 times more likely to be murdered than White women in 2020. The study also uncovered an increasing rate of homicides by firearms among all women, but especially Black women.

“Our findings suggest that there is an urgent need to address homicide inequities among Black and White women in the USA,” the research team writes. “Enacting federal legislation that reduces gun access is a crucial step. Policy makers must address long-standing structural factors that underpin elevated gun violence by implementing sustainable wealth-building opportunities; developing desegregated, mixed income and affordable housing; and increasing green spaces in communities where Black women largely reside.”

Dr. Waller is a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral research fellow in the department of psychiatry at Columbia University. She graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia where she majored in journalism with a concentration in legal studies. She holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling and a Ph.D. in social work from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.

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