With the U.S. distortion, all the peer countries—except the U.S. and Finland—received “A” grades for the past five decades.
A more nuanced picture is obtained if the U.S. is removed from the picture. Only Denmark, Norway and the U.K. remain consistent “A” performers over the past five decades, while Canada’s average relative grade drops to a “C” for three of the five decades.
With the U.S. out of the ranking, Finland becomes the only “D” performer. Finland has had an exceptionally high homicide rate relative to other western European countries for most of the 20th century and the first decade of this century.
The Finnish homicide rate should come with a caveat related to the reasons behind the homicide and the method used in the crime, according to a recent joint study by Finnish National Research Institute of Legal Policy, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, and the Dutch Leiden University.3 Only 6 per cent of Finland’s homicides relate to criminal activities—compared with 30 per cent in the Netherlands, where 35 per cent of the homicides were committed by shooting and 38 per cent occurred outdoors. By contrast, most of Finland’s homicides involved alcohol, where the victim and the killer knew one another and the homicide took place in a private residence, often with a kitchen knife. In the Netherlands, the victim and killer rarely knew one another.