Social Indicators Research

, Volume 105, Issue 3, pp 519-540

First online:

Social Capital, Economic Development, and Homicide: A Cross-National Investigation

  • Blaine RobbinsAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, University of Washington Email author 
  • , David PettinicchioAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, University of Washington

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This article draws from an ongoing debate over explanations of homicide. Within this debate, we investigate the pro-social effects of civil society and social capital. Few cross-national studies explore whether elements of social capital either increase or decrease homicide. The cross-national work that does is often characterized by small, homogeneous samples and the use of inappropriate statistical techniques. Replicating elements of Lederman et al.’s (Econ Dev Cult Change 50:509–539, 2002) original study but with wave IV World Values Survey data and negative binomial regression, we find weak support for the beneficial consequences of social capital on homicide. One dimension of social capital, however, does exhibit a significant negative association with homicide rates, net of other influences: social activism. We also fail to support the Durkheimian hypothesis that the negative effect of social capital on homicide is conditional on modernization. We explore the implications of the findings along with avenues for future research.


Social capital Economic development Cross-national homicide