Inequities in Community Exposure to Deadly Gun Violence by Race/Ethnicity, Poverty, and Neighborhood Disadvantage among Youth in Large US Cities

Publication Year


Journal Article

Understanding the burden of gun violence among youth is a public health imperative. While most estimates are based on direct and witnessed victimization, living nearby gun violence incidents may be consequential too. Yet detailed information about these broader experiences of violence is lacking. We use data on a population-based cohort of youth merged with incident-level data on deadly gun violence to assess the prevalence and intensity of community exposure to gun homicides across cross-classified categories of exposure distance and recency, overall and by race/ethnicity, household poverty, and neighborhood disadvantage. In total, 2–18% of youth resided within 600 m of a gun homicide occurring in the past 14–365 days. These percentages were 3–25% for incidents within 800 m and 5–37% for those within a 1300-m radius. Black and Latinx youth were 3–7 times more likely, depending on the exposure radius, to experience a past-year gun homicide than white youth and on average experienced incidents more recently and closer to home. Household poverty contributed to exposure inequities, but disproportionate residence in disadvantaged neighborhoods was especially consequential: for all racial/ethnic groups, the difference in the probability of exposure between youth in low vs high poverty households was approximately 5–10 percentage points, while the difference between youth residing in low vs high disadvantage neighborhoods was approximately 50 percentage points. Given well-documented consequences of gun violence exposure on health, these more comprehensive estimates underscore the importance of supportive strategies not only for individual victims but entire communities in the aftermath of gun violence.

Journal of Urban Health
Date Published