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Economic Discrimination and Societal Homicide Rates: Further Evidence on the Cost of Inequality

Steven F. Messner
American Sociological Review
Vol. 54, No. 4 (Aug., 1989), pp. 597-611
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095881
Page Count: 15
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Economic Discrimination and Societal Homicide Rates: Further Evidence on the Cost of Inequality
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Abstract

This research examines the effects of economic discrimination against social groups on national rates of homicide. Drawing on Peter Blau's macrostructural theory, I hypothesize that nations with intense and pervasive discrimination will exhibit comparatively high levels of homicide, and that the effects of discrimination will exceed those of income inequality. Regression analyses using both INTERPOL and World Health Organization homicide data support both hypotheses. Indicators of economic discrimination against social groups are significantly and positively related to homicide rates despite fairly extensive controls for other theoretically relevant national characteristics. Moreover, the effects for discrimination are consistently stronger than those for income concentration. These results suggest that the structuring of economic inequality on the basis of ascribed characteristics is a particularly important source of lethal violence in contemporary societies.

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