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# The Value of Denominator Should Be Considered When Drawing Conclusions

For example the United States Census combines their population data with crime data compiled from the FBIs Uniform Crime Reporting system UCR to produce crime rates These rates are calculated with a constant of 100000 and are broken down by type of crime As decribed by Sacco and Kennedy in The Criminal Event the constant in the above equation is designed so the crime rate can be expressed per c the constant units of exposure The selection of the constant is largely arbitrary but rates are traditionally expressed per 1000 or per 100000 units of exposure It is although most important to choose a value of c so the resulting rates will be meaningful to the reader For example if you are calculating crime rates for a town of 10000 people and you choose a value of c 10000 the results will be expressed in terms of a population greater than the town Consequently the results will not be meaningful to the town residents On the other hand if a value of 100 were chosen a resident reading the rates would see how many people in a group of 100 would be likely to be a victim of a given crime In contrast to the constant which is arbitrary and the numerator which is provided by observations and reports the denominator must be carefully determined for each type of crime To determine this denominator the target population must be established The target poplulation can be defined as the population we want to talk about Mosteller Fienberg and Rourke 1983 The usual practice is to use the total population residing within the jurisdiction in which the count of events has taken place Sacco and Kennedy 1996 Although this method does not take into account the demographic characteristics of the population or the empirical fact that different segments of the population are involved in criminal events with different levels of frequency Sacco and Kennedy 1996 Segments

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