Costs and Far-Reaching Impacts of Gun Violence

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Local Economies

Looking beyond hospital costs of gun violence, another research team examined the local costs of gun violence to businesses, housing values, and neighborhood economies. Using business establishment and credit score data, along with gunshot detection and sociodemographic data, we documented that gun violence is detrimental to neighborhood economic well-being.

Across five cities, gun violence surges slowed neighborhood home value appreciation by 4 percent. The same neighborhoods saw decreases in average credit score and homeownership rates. And in cities experiencing a decrease in gun violence, neighborhoods had more new business openings, more jobs created, and fewer business closings.

Health Care

Beyond the physical and emotional trauma associated with gun violence, what are its costs? Our research looks at hospital costs of gun violence through a state-based analysis of the cost of gunshot wounds for hospitals (more than $600 million in 2010) and how much certain states or regions bear a disproportionate amount of that cost.

Our research found that in 2010, 36,000 victims of firearm assaults went to emergency rooms, and of those, 25,000 were admitted to the hospital. The majority of the costs are for people with publicly funded health insurance like Medicaid, so hospital costs of gun violence are, in most cases, borne by taxpayers. Additional research in 2014 revealed that Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act shifted even more of the burden of gun violence–related health care costs from uninsured patients to public coverage.

Despite broad interest in estimating the economic costs of gun violence at the national and individual levels, we know little about how local economies respond to increased gun violence, especially sharp and sudden increases (or surges) in gun violence. This brief summarizes findings that surges in gun violence can significantly reduce the growth of new retail and service businesses and slow home value appreciation. Higher levels of neighborhood gun violence can be associated with fewer retail and service establishments and fewer new jobs. Higher levels of gun violence were also associated with lower home values, credit scores, and homeownership rates.

Gun Violence Affects the Economic Health of Communities

Hospital use and hospital mortality related to firearm-assault injuries varies considerably across demographic groups and states, as does the percentage of firearm-assault injury hospital costs borne by the public. Healthcare data from six states--Arizona, California, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Wisconsin--show that hospital use for firearm-assault injury is disproportionately concentrated among young males, particularly young black males. Additionally, uninsured victims have higher hospital mortality rates for firearm-assault injury. Across all six states, the public pays a substantial portion of the hospital cost for injuries caused by firearm assault.

State Variation in Hospital Use and Cost of Firearm Assault Injury, 2010