Exploring the Relationship between Neoliberalism and Homicide: A Cross-National Perspective

Craig Mclean, Michael A. Long, Paul B. Stretesky, Michael J. Lynch, Steve Hall

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Abstract

Research has shown that neoliberal economic policies may increase violence. In this study we extend this logic to create a “neoliberalism-homicide hypothesis.” We test this hypothesis using two global measures of neoliberalism (the Economic Freedom of the World Index and the Index of Economic Freedom) and 2014 homicide rates for 142 nations. Regression analysis provides little support for the neoliberalism-homicide hypothesis using the global indexes. However, when examining factors that make up these indexes we discover that as size of government and tax burden become more neoliberal across nations, homicide rates increase. A post hoc exploratory analysis suggests that the association between government size, spending, taxes, and homicide is largely indirect and manifests through economic inequality and poverty. That is, neoliberal government policies appear to increase poverty and inequality which, in turn, lead to higher rates of homicide. We situate our findings within the broader literature on neoliberalism and violence and suggest directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-76
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology
Volume49
Issue number1
Early online date20 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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