International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 237–245

School bullying, homicide and income inequality: a cross-national pooled time series analysis

  • Frank J. Elgar
  • Kate E. Pickett
  • William Pickett
  • Wendy Craig
  • Michal Molcho
  • Klaus Hurrelmann
  • Michela Lenzi
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00038-012-0380-y

Cite this article as:
Elgar, F.J., Pickett, K.E., Pickett, W. et al. Int J Public Health (2013) 58: 237. doi:10.1007/s00038-012-0380-y



To examine the relation between income inequality and school bullying (perpetration, victimisation and bully/victims) and explore whether the relation is attributable to international differences in violent crime.


Between 1994 and 2006, the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study surveyed 117 nationally representative samples of adolescents about their involvement in school bullying over the previous 2 months. Country prevalence rates of bullying were matched to data on income inequality and homicides.


With time and country differences held constant, income inequality positively related to the prevalence of bullying others at least twice (b = 0.25), victimisation by bullying at least twice (b = 0.29) and both bullied and victimisation at least twice (b = 0.40). The relation between income inequality and victimisation was partially mediated by country differences in homicides.


Understanding the social determinants of school bullying facilitates anti-bullying policy by identifying groups at risk and exposing its cultural and economic influences. This study found that cross-national differences in income inequality related to the prevalence of school bullying in most age and gender groups due, in part, to a social milieu of interpersonal violence.


BullyingAdolescentsSocial conditionsIncome inequalityHBSCPooled time-series analysis

Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank J. Elgar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kate E. Pickett
    • 3
  • William Pickett
    • 4
    • 5
  • Wendy Craig
    • 6
  • Michal Molcho
    • 7
  • Klaus Hurrelmann
    • 8
  • Michela Lenzi
    • 9
  1. 1.Institute for Health and Social PolicyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Douglas Mental Health Research InstituteMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of Health SciencesUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  4. 4.Department of Emergency MedicineQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  5. 5.Department of Community Health and EpidemiologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  7. 7.Department of Health PromotionNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland
  8. 8.Bielefeld University and Hertie School of GovernanceBerlinGermany
  9. 9.Department of Developmental and Social PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly