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A Review of the Cross-National Empirical Literature on Social Structure and Homicide

Abstract

The purpose of this proposed chapter is twofold. First, we expand on the work of LaFree (1999), by compiling a summary of the cross-national research on social structure and homicide. Second, we provide a critical assessment of the status of this body of literature, presenting its strengths and weaknesses, noting points of convergence and divergence, and concluding with suggested directions for future research. Nearly 70 quantitative studies are included in our analysis, representing the most comprehensive list of peer-reviewed cross-national homicide studies to date. Although we are unable to draw strong general conclusions at this time, due in large part to inconsistencies in the operationalization and measurement of key theoretical constructs, it does appear that the literature may be beginning to converge in some key respects. On the other hand, our review also suggests that existing macrolevel explanations may not generalize across space and time. We use these conclusions to inform our suggestions for future research in attempting to determine the variation of national homicide rates.

Keywords

  • Gross Domestic Product
  • Violent Crime
  • Divorce Rate
  • Homicide Rate
  • Social Disorganization Theory

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The age range that constituted “youth population” varied in the studies reviewed, though as noted by Land et al. (1990) several variations on the definition of this percentage are highly correlated, thus, “the particular age range used in a given study is not likely to be of great importance” (f.n. 9).

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Correspondence to Carol L. S. Trent .

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Trent, C.L.S., Pridemore, W.A. (2012). A Review of the Cross-National Empirical Literature on Social Structure and Homicide. In: Liem, M., Pridemore, W. (eds) Handbook of European Homicide Research. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-0466-8_7

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