tentative research topic

Choosing a research topic has been kind of overwhelming because there are so many potential topics i’m interested in, yet i’m not really sure where to start any of them. I’m very interested in the economics of crime, particularly related to gun violence. For example, the medical costs society incurs as a result of gun violence, or if/ how certain economic environments are related to gun violence. Unfortunately, reliable gun violence data is hard to find since the government has collected practically no data on it since 1996. The tentative topic I settled on was how social class influences gun ownership and/ or gun homicide rates. However, over the past few days i’ve been thinking about doing something related to suicide and economics.

Gun ownership is related to suicide; about 2/3 of gun deaths in the U.S. every day are suicides (about 60 suicides per day) and access to a gun vastly increases the likelihood of suicide completion. Also, for years Caucasian men over the age of fifty constituted the majority of suicides in the U.S., but there is evidence that this demographic trend  has been shifting. The number of women and lower class minorities who kill themselves is increasing. But suicide data can be unreliable because it is typically underreported. I’m also interested in researching if the state of the macro economy influences suicide rates. And if so, do fluctuations in the economy disproportionately effect suicide rates in certain populations.

My ideas are pretty disorganized, so if anyone has suggestions please let me know!

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One Response to tentative research topic

  1. cflurry says:

    Hi Katherine –

    I think you’ve chosen an especially important aspect of society.

    Some avenues that may be worth pursuing:
    – On a local/regional level, take a look at violence in general and local economic factors. Is there a correlation between, say, unemployment rates and homicide per capita or incidents of armed robbery and property value movement? Does one factor seem to cause the other? Do they tend to reinforce?
    – Try to establish: What is the true cost of owning a gun? Say the average gun sells for $500, but if we attribute at least some percentage of all the gun violence-related externalities to that price tag (increased police presence, insurance payouts, property value changes, loss of income or assets due to theft, loss potential spending/investment across the lifetime of someone no longer living), what are we as a society really paying?
    – Regarding suicide rates and macro factors, if you look at rates of change, you may not need be overly concerned with under-/over-reporting so long as the data is consistently under-/over-reported – the trend would likely still show.

    Good luck!

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