CPop

Homicides have a devastating impact on reducing life expectancy in Latin America

Latin America accounts for around a third of the world’s homicides despite having just eight per cent of its population. The study shows that Honduran males are hardest hit, losing six years of life expectancy due to homicides when compared to developed countries.

New paper from our Jose Manuel Aburto and Vladimir Canudas Romo in BMJ Global Health

Latin America accounts for around a third of the world’s homicides despite having just eight per cent of its population. The study shows that Honduran males are hardest hit, losing six years of life expectancy due to homicides when compared to developed countries. Honduran females lose two years. The life expectancy gap between developed and Latin American countries is in great part explained by the excess of homicide mortality: in El Salvador this is equivalent to four years, while males in Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic all lose around two years. Females from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica, all lose around half a year of life expectancy due to homicides.

Co-lead author, José Manuel Aburto of CPop, analysed causes-of-death across 23 Latin American countries in comparison to 15 European countries. “These are very worrying numbers,” Aburto said. “We found major disparities in life expectancies in Latin American countries, particularly for men”. “Despite Latin American countries having seen progress in most other major causes of death, such as reductions in cancer and cardiovascular disease, homicide is still impacting people’s lives so much, particularly among young men, that there is little progress in life expectancies. “Usually suicide rates are higher than homicides in every part of the world, but in Latin America homicides are much higher.” The study also tracked changes in life expectancy between 1990 and 2014.

“There are some countries that have shown a lot of increase in life expectancy over this time such as Nicaragua and Peru, where declines in homicide mortality have been a very important factor of this progress. In other countries, like Trinidad and Tobago, there has been no improvement at all,” Canudas-Romo co-lead author said. “Honduran females and Mexican males are really falling behind. Mexican males lost close to half a year of life expectancy due to homicide, while Jamaican males gained more than that thanks to reductions of violent deaths.” Adds Aburto.