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How effective are our 'better angels'? Assessing country-level declines in homicide since 1950


Pinker makes the sweeping argument that violence declines with modernization as countries of the world gradually converge in terms of economic markets, communication structures, and culture. An alternative prediction is provided by conflict perspectives, which argue that growing income inequality both within and between countries will serve to drive criminal violence ever higher. We use fixed effects regression models to examine the extent to which national homicide victimization rates for 55 countries have shared declining trends for the past six decades. Our results show that homicide rates in the countries examined trended in the same downward direction since the early 1990s, but support for a modernization perspective was limited mostly to a subset of wealthy, western-style democracies.​

Publication Information

Full Citation:

LaFree, Gary, Karise Curtis and David McDowall. 2015. "How effective are our 'better angels'? Assessing country-level declines in homicide since 1950." European Journal of Criminology (July). http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1477370815584261

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