Does Homicide Decrease with Globalization

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LaFree, Gary
Jiang, Bo
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Research is strongly divided on whether globalization increases or decreases homicide and interpersonal violence. Elias argued that as Western societies opened up to commerce over the past 500 years they gradually “civilized,” resulting in decreasing levels of criminal violence. By contrast, Marx famously reasoned that the capitalist spread of commerce corroded traditional values and institutions, widened the gulf between the rich and poor and increased levels of interpersonal crime. Somewhat surprisingly, we could find few direct tests of the connection between globalization and cross-national violent crime. Based on a comprehensive cross-national database on homicide and a robust set of controls, we find strong evidence that globalization over the past half century is associated with declining homicide rates.