Daniel Kim is an associate professor of health sciences at the Northeastern University. He says that gun violence in the US is one of the reasons for the declining life expectancy there. He believes that no comprehensive study has looked at the various factors behind this crisis despite the critical need for studies that address the underlying causes of gun violence. Kim has provided new insights into how different social and economic circumstances could be driving gun violence in the US in his new study. It focuses on socioeconomic status, income inequality, and other similar aspects known as the social determinants of health. It has also analysed 13,060 gun deaths in all states of US. It was found that the strongest association was between gun homicides and social mobility, or the ability of people to move to a higher social status than that of their parents.
According to Kim, a study linking the relationship of societal and economic conditions with gun violence in the US is very critical. Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in the US and is a public health crisis. On average, an estimated 100 people in the US are killed with guns every day. There is an urgent need to better understand the root social causes of these. In Kim’s study, he has covered a wide range of major social determinants of health, like, social conditions that have been linked to mortality and many other health outcomes. He has incorporated a range of other factors at the neighborhood level. The study found that an increase in average levels of intergenerational social mobility was linked to a 25% decrease in neighborhood gun homicide rates. Higher levels of trust in institutions such as the government, media, and corporations were associated with a 19% lower neighborhood gun homicide rate. Meanwhile, higher levels of public welfare spending were related to a 14% lower neighborhood homicide rate, while the rich-poor gap was related to an 8% higher neighborhood homicide rate.
His findings might not establish cause and effect relationships but the relationships that Kim found suggest some key social drivers of the gun violence epidemic. These social determinants are things that can be modified through social and economic policies. For instance, policies that make college more affordable to people from lower income backgrounds could raise levels of social mobility.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman