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Inequality, Economic Development and Lethal Violence: A Cross-National Analysis of Suicide and Homicide

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A theoretical tradition predating Durkheim links suicide and homicide as two currents in a single stream of lethal violence. This paper explores the relationships of inequality and economic development to suicide in a sample of 31 nations using both this perspective and the more traditional approach, which treats suicide and homicide separately. Inequality is generally a better predictor than development. After controlling for development, it is curvilinearly related to homicide and to total lethal violence, and it has negative linear effects on suicide and the SMR, a measure of the direction in which violence is directed. Controlling for inequality, development is unrelated to total violence, curvilinearly related to the SMR, and only weakly related to suicide and homicide.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, U.S.A.; 2: Department of Sociology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0324, U.S.A.


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