The Violence Epidemic in Two Charts


The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations has a handy data visualization tool here on worldwide causes of death and disability. The Venezuela pages are somewhat startling.

One key measure is Years of Life Lost: a statistical measure of the years of life a person would have been expected to live had they not died prematurely.

In IHME’s tool, the Y-Axis shows thousands of Years of Life Lost produced by deaths of people from a given age group, shown along the X-Axis. It takes a bit of looking, but the chart makes a bit of sense.

Here is the Years of Life Lost chart for Venezuela in 1995:


The peach-colored strip on top represents Years of Life Lost, by age group, from “intentional injuries” (read: homicide and suicide).

Now, here’s the same chart for 2010.


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  1. Thanks for that shocking and very revealing visualisation. I was thinking precisely about this when I stumpled upon the WHO statistics on life expectation. In principle, Venezuelans now live on average 2 years more than in 1995 and I am sure Madurismo will proclaim that is a great achievement of Chávez and his “revolution”….and millions could believe that crap.

    But then I simply plotted the data against that of several other Latin American countries:

    It turns out Venezuela has been beaten by a lot of other countries with no oil.

    And I asked myself then: what is it that is putting Venezuelans behind? Just worse hospital services? The incredible obesity affecting people in Venezuela? Or is it perhaps to a great extent due to the horrendous crime wave that has taken Venezuela?

    You have provided a big part of the answer.

    • In fact, from than other chart we can see that while trying to emulate Cuba for its health standards, we are actually farther from their life expectancy now than we were in 1990. Meanwhile Colombia, staring from a lower average, has actually reached Cuban standards for life expectancy (importantly with much higher living standards)

      • Yes. I decided to link to the chart only and not my post but there I also mentioned that

        1) Chile overtook Cuba, which is stagnating
        2) Colombia is also doing very well and outperforming Venezuela, Cuba and Argentina
        3) Argentina, which is taking the most similar policies to Venezuela, is just “Venezonalizing” (or Chavetisizing) itself

      • Cuban longevity standards are actually quite unreliable. I read a semi- technical discussion of this recently; as I recall, people who leave Cuba are recorded as having been born, but not having died, ever.

      • Don’t discount the tremendous increase in lose of life to cancer and cardio. Normally we would expect these to do down with time, not up. Correct?

          • The population grew a lot…I suppose you mean it both ways: as in “total population count” and as in average weight. This IS an issue in Venezuela.

          • My second thought after seeing the impressive bar graph was “normalize, normalize, normalize!”
            Total life lost is an insignificant statistic, you have to consider this type of thing on a per capita basis. But my first thought was that the data is an incredibly sad illustration of how safety has been crumbling in Venezuela.

  2. All causes of death have increased their toll , not just violence , additionally implying that the chavista system of public health care ( the barrio adentro system) is deeply disfunctional and inneficient .

    These charts read as an indictment of the regime on two fronts . On the failure of the system to stem deaths by violent crime and on its failure to offer most people a health care system that works. The only improvement are the death rates associated with neonatal care .

    This against a world wide wave of medical diagnostic and therapeutic progress which by themselves should have made the 2010 death rates even lower than they were in 1995 .

      • They could normalize the y-axis per hundred thousand inhabitants or something like that. Are there any charts normalized in this or a similar way?

          • Oh! Yes, you are right. You just have to click on “Rate” and they give you the same chart per 100.000 inhabitants. Thanks for pointing that out. I eliminated all causes except “interpersonal violence” and found what I wanted. It turns out in 1995 a total of 1.3k years were lost due to violence, while in 2010 this number increased to 2.5k, i.e., it almost doubled.

            The site is pretty cool.

      • Sorry Francisco , my mistake , difficult to tell whether we have improved or are standing still if we are just looking at absolute numbers , some of the bars however appear to show a lot of contrast from one year to another , is there any other graph which as Getashrink suggest normalizes the data so that it can be compared from year to year.?? Great it we could get it .!!

        • Yes, I was going to make the same observation about road-related deaths. I don’t recall seeing a family of four on a mototaxi with any regularity say, 5 years ago…

      • In any case, we can do some calculations ourselves. The population in 1995 was 22.1 million inhabitants, and in 2010 it was 29 million. This is a 31% increase in population, so, if everything stayed the same, we would expect the number of years of life lost due to any given cause to increase by the same percentage. Let’s look at the peak from the 20-24 years old group. From the chart, one can estimate that in 1995 they lost around 100k years due to violence. A 30% increase on that would lead to 130k years lost. Instead, we have in 2010 that the years lost due to violence were more than 200k.

    • I’m pretty sure if we show this chart to some chavistas, many of them would look only at the “0-6 days”, “7-27 days”, and “28-364 days” groups, and ignore the rest. So, let’s not be like them (in the opposite sense) and acknowledge the big improvements made in those groups.

      • Yeah we could say something like… “We acknowledge Chavismo helped reduce neonatal disorders just to have those kids die from intentional injuries in the future”. I agree that we improved in those areas but it seems to me that statistically there is no much difference in relation to the chart. Though I might add that it seems we are losing more people due to “intentional injuries” but that is my biased opinion I suppose.

  3. Francisco, you are using the graphs for males, I was trying to get the same until I realized I had women graphs… first I thought you got that really wrong… the difference is unbelievable.

  4. This just in, protests in Miraflores!

    A group of soldiers from the parachute division that participated in the February 4th (4F) coup were protesting close to Miraflores, they bombed with tear gas and then moved to Mirflores to receive some more gas! They were protesting their rights to be absorbed back into the Armed Forces. Details are few yet so some of this stuff could be off.

  5. There is a clear reduction in infant and childhood deaths,

    There is also an enormous increase in “transport deaths”, and a very large increase in diabetes and related deaths, both far in excess of popuiation increase.


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