The Coming Wave of Violence in California

Publication Date: January 1997

Publisher: RAND Corporation

Author(s): Allan Abrahamse

Research Area: Social conditions

Type: Brief


This documented briefing, originally given at the June 1996 meeting of the Homicide Research Working Group, explores the question of whether California faces an impending wave of violence from its increasing number of young people. The future depends on a key uncertainty: will children of coming generations be more violent than today's adolescents? A pessimistic assumption is that children born from 1977 on will face age-specific homicide arrest rates 3 percent higher than the preceding year's birth cohort. A more optimistic future assumes arrest rates will decline by 1 percent in each successive birth cohort, so that the year 2021 will have a 14 percent decrease in homicide arrest rate. A nominal assumption is that each cohort will have an age-specific arrest rate that is about 1 percent higher than the preceding cohort. In the latter case, California's homicide arrest rate in 2021 will be about 28 percent higher than it is today. The key finding is that what lies in store of California depends on the upbringing of young Californians today and tomorrow.