Social Indicators Research

, Volume 105, Issue 3, pp 519–540 | Cite as

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

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Social capital Economic development Cross-national homicide 

References

  1. Almond, G., & Verba, S. (1963). The civic culture: Political attitudes and democracy in five nations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Antonaccio, O., & Tittle, C. (2007). A cross-national test of Bonger’s theory of criminality and economic conditions. Criminology, 45, 925–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ashraf, N., Bohnet, I., & Piankov, N. (2004). Is trust a bad investment? Working Paper No. 2004-07, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts.Google Scholar
  4. Avakame, E. (1999). Sex ratios, female labor force participation, and lethal violence against women. Violence Against Women, 5, 1321–1341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Avison, W., & Loring, P. (1986). Population diversity and cross-national homicide: The effects of inequality and heterogeneity. Criminology, 24, 733–749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baron, R., & Kenny, D. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baum, C., Schaffer, M., & Stillman, S. (2003). Instrumental variables and GMM: Estimation and testing. The Stata Journal, 3, 1–31.Google Scholar
  8. Beirne, P., & Messerschmidt, J. (2000). Criminology (3rd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview.Google Scholar
  9. Bjørnskov, C. (2007). Determinants of generalized trust: A cross-country comparison. Public Choice, 130, 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bjørnskov, C. (2008). Social trust and fractionalization: A possible reinterpretation. European Sociological Review, 24, 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bjørnskov, C. (2009). How does social trust lead to better government? An attempt to separate electoral and bureaucratic mechanisms. Online First: Public Choice.Google Scholar
  12. Blau, P., & Blau, J. (1982). The cost of inequality: Metropolitan structure and violent crime. American Sociological Review, 47, 114–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bourdieu, P. (1983). Forms of Capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. New York: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  14. Browning, C., Feinberg, S., & Dietz, R. (2004). The paradox of social organization: Networks, collective efficacy, and violent crime in urban neighborhoods. Social Forces, 83, 503–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Buonanno, P., Montolio, D., & Vanin, P. (2009). Does social capital reduce crime? The Journal of Law and Economics, 52, 145–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bursik, R., Jr. (1988). Social disorganization and theories of crime and delinquency: Problems and prospects. Criminology, 26, 519–551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bursik, R., Jr., & Grasmick, H. (1993). Neighborhoods and crime: The dimensions of effective community control. New York: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  18. Butchart, A., & Engström, K. (2002). Sex- and age-specific relations between economic development, economic inequality and homicide rates in people aged 0–24 years: A cross-sectional analysis. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 80, 797–805.Google Scholar
  19. Chamlin, M., & Cochran, J. (2005). Ascribed inequality and homicide in modern societies. Homicide Studies, 9, 3–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chamlin, M., & Cochran, J. (2006). Economic inequality, legitimacy, and cross-national homicide rates. Homicide Studies, 10, 231–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cole, J. H., & Gramajo, A. M. (2009). Homicide rates in a cross-section of countries: Evidence and interpretations. Population and Development Review, 35, 749–776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Coleman, J. (1990). Foundations of social theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Crow, J. (1980). The epic of Latin America. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Dahl, R. (1971). Polyarchy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Delhey, J., & Newton, K. (2005). Predicting cross-national levels of social trust: Global pattern or Nordic exceptionalism? European Sociological Review, 21, 311–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Dicristina, B. (2004). Durkheim’s theory of homicide and the confusion of the empirical literature. Theoretical Criminology, 8, 57–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Durkheim, E. (1951 [1897]). Suicide: A study in sociology (J. A. Spaulding & G. Simpson, Trans.). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  28. Durkheim, E. (1957 [1900]). Professional ethics and civic morals (C. Brookfield Trans.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Fukuyama, F. (1995). Trust: The social virtues and the creation of prosperity. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  30. Galea, S., Karpati, A., & Kennedy, B. (2002). Social capital and violence in the United States, 1974–1993. Social Science and Medicine, 55, 1373–1383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gatti, U., Tremblay, R., & Larocque, D. (2003). Civic community and juvenile delinquency: A study of the regions of Italy. British Journal of Criminology, 43, 22–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gordon, R. (1968). Issues in multiple regression. The American Journal of Sociology, 73, 592–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Grasmick, H., & Green, D. (1981). Deterrence and the morally committed. Sociological Quarterly, 22, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hansmann, H., & Quigley, J. (1982). Population heterogeneity and the sociogenesis of homicide. Social Forces, 61, 206–224.Google Scholar
  35. Hechter, M. (1987). Principles of group solidarity. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  36. Inglehart, R. (1988). The renaissance of political culture. American Political Science Review, 82, 1203–1230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kennedy, B., Kawachi, I., Prothrow-Stith, D., Lochner, K., & Gupta, V. (1998). Social capital, income inequality, and firearm violent crime. Social Science and Medicine, 47, 7–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Knack, S., & Keefer, P. (1997). Does social capital have an economic payoff? A cross-country investigation. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112, 1251–1288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Krahn, H., Hartnagel, T., & Gartrell, J. (1986). Income inequality and homicide rates: Cross-national data and criminological theories. Criminology, 24, 269–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Krohn, M. (1978). A Durkheimian analysis of international crime rates. Social Forces, 57, 654–670.Google Scholar
  41. Kurian, G. (2001). The book of world rankings. New York: Facts on File.Google Scholar
  42. LaFree, G., & Kick, E. (1986). Cross-national effects of developmental, distributional, and demographic variables on crime: A review and analysis. International Annals of Criminology, 24, 303–313.Google Scholar
  43. Lancaster, R. (1992). Life is hard: Machismo, danger, and the intimacy of power in Nicaragua. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  44. Land, K. C., McCall, P., & Cohen, L. (1990). Structural covariates of homicide rates: Are there any invariances across time and social space? American Journal of Sociology, 95, 922–963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lederman, D., Loayza, N., & Menéndez, A. (2002). Violent crime: Does social capital matter? Economic Development and Cultural Change, 50, 509–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lee, M. (2008). Civic community in the hinterland: Toward a theory of rural social structure and violence. Criminology, 46, 447–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McCullah, P., & Nelder, A. (1989). Generalized linear models (2nd ed.). London: Chapman & Hall/CRC.Google Scholar
  48. McVeigh, R. (2006). Structural influences on activism and crime: Identifying the social structure of discontent. American Journal of Sociology, 112, 510–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Messner, S. (1982). Societal development, social equality, and homicide: A cross-national test of a Durkheimian model. Social Forces, 61, 225–240.Google Scholar
  50. Messner, S., Baumer, E., & Rosenfeld, R. (2004). Dimensions of social capital and rates of criminal homicide. American Sociological Review, 69, 882–903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Messner, S., & Rosenfeld, R. (1997). Political restraint of the market and levels of criminal homicide: A cross-national application of institutional anomie. Social Forces, 75, 1393–1416.Google Scholar
  52. Mondak, J., & Gearing, A. (1998). Civic Engagement in a post-communist state. Political Psychology, 19, 615–637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mouw, T. (2006). Estimating the causal effect of social capital: A review of recent research. Annual Review of Sociology, 32, 79–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Murray, M. (2006). The bad, the weak, and the ugly: Avoiding the pitfalls of instrumental variables estimation. Working Paper, Department of Economics, Bates College, Lewiston, ME.Google Scholar
  55. Neumayer, E. (2003). Good policy can lower violent crime: Evidence from fixed effects estimation in a cross-national panel of homicide rates, 1980–97. Journal of Peace Research, 40, 619–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nieuwbeerta, P., McCall, P., Elffers, H., & Wittebrood, K. (2008). Neighborhood characteristics and individual homicide risks: Effects of social cohesion, confidence in the police, and socioeconomic disadvantage. Homicide Studies, 12, 90–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. O’Brien, R. (1991). Sex ratios and rape rates: A power control theory. Criminology, 29, 99–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Olson, M. (1965). The logic of collective action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Ortega, S., Corzine, J., Burnett, C., & Poyer, T. (1992). Modernization, age structure, and regional context: A cross-national study of crime. Sociological Spectrum, 12, 257–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Osgood, D. (2000). Poisson-based regression analysis of aggregate crime rates. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 16, 21–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Osgood, D., & Chambers, J. (2001). Social disorganization outside the metropolis: An analysis of rural youth violence. Criminology, 38, 81–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Park, R., & Burgess, E. (1925). The city: Suggestions for investigation of human behavior in the urban environment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  63. Paxton, P. (1999). Is social capital declining in the United States? A multiple indicator assessment. American Journal of Sociology, 105, 88–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Paxton, P. (2002). Social capital and democracy: An interdependent relationship. American Sociological Review, 67, 254–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Paxton, P. (2007). Association memberships and generalized trust: A multilevel model across 31 countries. Social Forces, 86, 47–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Portes, A. (1998). Social capital: Its origins and applications in modern sociology. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Pratt, T., & Godsey, T. (2003). Social support, inequality, and homicide: A cross-national test of an integrated theoretical model. Criminology, 41, 611–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Pridemore, W. (2008). Why is poverty missing from the cross-national literature on social structure and homicide? A first test. Criminology, 46, 133–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Putnam, R. (1993). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  70. Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  71. Putnam, R. (2007). E pluribus Unum: Diversity, community in the twenty-first century. The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture. Scandinavian Political Studies, 30, 137–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Quinney, R. (1965). Suicide, homicide, and economic development. Social Forces, 43, 401–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Rivera, J. (1978). Latin America: A sociocultural interpretation. New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  74. Rosenberg, T. (1995). The haunted land: Facing Europe’s ghosts after communism. Random House.Google Scholar
  75. Rosenfeld, R., & Messner, S. (1991). The social sources of homicide in different types of societies. Sociological Forum, 6, 51–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Rosenfeld, R., Messner, S., & Baumer, E. (2001). Social capital and homicide. Social Forces, 80, 283–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Sampson, R., & Groves, W. (1989). Community structure and crime: Testing social disorganization theory. American Journal of Sociology, 94, 774–802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Sampson, R., Raudenbush, S., & Earls, F. (1997). Neighborhoods and violent crime: A multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277, 918–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Sapienza, P., Toldra, A., & Zingales, L. (2007). Understanding trust. NBER Working Paper No. 13387.Google Scholar
  80. Savolainen, J. (2000). Inequality, welfare state, and homicide: Further support for the institutional anomie theory. Criminology, 38, 1021–1042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Savolainen, J., Lehti, M., & Kivivuori, J. (2008). Historical origins of a cross-national puzzle: Homicide in Finland, 1750 to 2000. Homicide Studies, 12, 67–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Shaw, C., & McKay, H. (1969). Juvenile delinquency in urban areas. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  83. Stamatel, J. P. (2009). Correlates of national-level homicide variation in post-communist east-central Europe. Social Forces, 87, 1423–1448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Thöni, C., Tyran, J-R., & Wengström, E. (2009). Microfoundations of social capital. Discussion Paper No. 09-24. Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  85. Tocqueville, A. (2000 [1863]). Democracy in America (H. C. Mansfield & D. Winthrop, Trans.). University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  86. Tonry, M. (1997). Ethnicity, crime and immigration: Comparative and cross-national perspectives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  87. Uggen, C., & Janikula, J. (1999). Volunteerism and arrest in the transition to adulthood. Social Forces, 78, 331–362.Google Scholar
  88. Uslaner, E. (2000). Producing and consuming trust. Political Science Quarterly, 115, 569–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Uslaner, E. (2002). The moral foundations of trust. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  90. Walter, F. (2009). Crime, comparative criminology, and the American dream. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Royal York, Toronto.Google Scholar
  91. World Values Study Group. (1999). World Values Survey, 1981–1984, 1990–1993, 1995–1997, and 1999–2002. Ann Arbor, MI: ICPSR.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations