Social Indicators Research

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

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

  • Blaine RobbinsEmail author
  • David Pettinicchio


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 



The authors thank Trey Causey, Katie Corcoran, Robert Crutchfield, Jerald Herting, Edgar Kiser, Derek Kreager, Ross Matsueda and Jacob Young for helpful suggestions. Earlier versions of this research were presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, the 2008 annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, and the Deviance Seminar series at the University of Washington. We thank the presenters and attendees for their comments.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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