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Homicide

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Cross-National Predictors of Crime: A Meta-Analysis


Amy E. Nivette
Homicide Studies 2011 15: 103 originally published online 27 April 2011
DOI: 10.1177/1088767911406397
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HSX40639
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HSX15210.1177/1088767911406397NivetteHomicide Studies

Cross-National Predictors
of Crime: A Meta-Analysis

Homicide Studies
15(2) 103131
2011 SAGE Publications
Reprints and permission: http://www.
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/1088767911406397
http://hsx.sagepub.com

Amy E. Nivette1

Abstract
Cross-national research has increased in the past few decades, resulting in a large body
of empirical research. In particular, cross-national studies are often limited in data
sources, which restrict variable selection to debatable proxy indicators. This study
therefore uses meta-analytic techniques to examine major cross-national predictors
of homicide to determine strengths and weaknesses in theory and design. The
findings indicate several critical limitations to cross-national research, including biased
sample composition, a lack of theoretical clarity in predictor operationalizations, and
an overwhelming reliance on cross-sectional design. The predictors that showed
the strongest mean effects were Latin American regional dummy variables, income
inequality indicators and the Decommodification Index. Conversely, static population
indicators, democracy indices, and measures of economic development had the weakest
effects on homicide.
Keywords
meta-analysis, homicide, cross-national, predictors

Introduction
In recent decades, a large body of research has emerged to explain variations in levels
of homicide across nations (Marshall, Marshall, & Ren, 2009; Stamatel, 2009a; Van
Dijk, 2008). These explanations have been primarily drawn from the DurkheimianModernization theoretical tradition, which suggests rapid societal and structural
change to be the primary source of deviance within a society (Kick & LaFree, 1985;
LaFree, 1999). Cross-national literature consequently reflects this long-standing influence
through studies that focus on examining correlations between homicide and population

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Corresponding Author:
Amy E. Nivette, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge,
Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA, UK
Email: aen34@cam.ac.uk

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composition, economic conditions, and levels of deprivation. Despite the pervasive


influence of the Durkheimian-Modernization perspective in cross-national research,
evidence concerning this and other theories remains unclear.
Certain soft concepts such as trust and cultural values remain scarcely tested at
the international level. Soft, or sociocultural, predictors are measures of attitudes
and perceptions, norms and values, or religious beliefs that are often considered mediators of structural variables in neighborhood-level studies (Sampson, 2006a). Although
the development of worldwide sociocultural data sets (e.g., the World Values Survey)
have led to more direct testing of these concepts, their impact remains unknown. As
much of the focus in cross-national research concentrates on structural covariates,
assessing the predictive potential of these sociocultural concepts can encourage new
avenues of cross-national research.
As yet, no study has attempted to statistically analyze the status of cross-national
empirical research, which is somewhat surprising due to the proclaimed importance of
the comparative perspective for theoretical development (Bennett, 2004; Braithwaite,
1989; Evans, LaGrange, & Willis, 1996). There are a few narrative research syntheses
(LaFree, 1999; Pridemore, 2002; Pridemore & Trent, 2010; Stamatel, 2006), but only
two studies have attempted to statistically assess the aggregate effect of macro-level
indicators and theories (see Hsieh & Pugh, 1993; Pratt & Cullen, 2005). Even so, these
rely heavily on U.S.-based studies, with only a handful of effect sizes drawn from
studies using a non-U.S. sample, and even fewer from the cross-national level. For
instance, Pratt and Cullen (2005) included 12 studies from the cross-national level out
of 214, whereas Hsieh and Pugh (1993) included only 10 out of 34. Furthermore, the
most recent meta-analysis (Pratt & Cullen, 2005) only includes studies up to the year
1999. However, many new studies have emerged since, reflecting the recent momentum in cross-national interest that incorporates improvements and expansions in data
sources, analytic techniques, and theoretical perspectives (Marshall & Block, 2004;
Van Dijk, 2008).
Although most studies at this level focus on structural influences drawn from the
Durkheimian-Modernization perspective, many different theories have been applied
to cross-national data (e.g., strain, social disorganization, democratization, and routine
activity theories). The majority of studies focus on homicide since it is considered the
most reliable crime indicator in cross-national research (Neapolitan, 1997), although a
handful of studies examine other types of crime. Despite the known reliability of
homicide data, slight differences in data-collection techniques and definitions between
international data sources may affect the results. Thus, it is necessary to organize these
research findings so that clear information regarding the size and direction of common
effects can guide a more efficient research design. A meta-analysis can assess the relative empirical impact and robustness of variables associated with these theories. The
current study therefore has three main objectives: (a) assess the mean effect sizes for
cross-national predictors of homicide, (b) determine the impact of methodological
variations on study outcomes, and (c) evaluate the relative strength of sociocultural versus structural predictors.

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The Benefits of Meta-Analysis


Hunter and Schmidt (2004) argue that traditional statistical significance tests are too
weak in power to make accurate scientific claims about evidence in support of a theory. Due to practical limitations to sample size in a typical behavioral study, the
chance of a Type II error is often very high, effectively decreasing the chances of correctly detecting an effect (Hunter & Schmidt, 2004). Social scientists then argue that
the way to increase detection is to increase the sample size. This is sometimes impossible in cross-national research, where the data required to test a hypothesis are only
available for a small number of industrialized countries (Marshall & Block, 2004;
Stamatel, 2006). However, when one study is inadequate in answering a scientific
question completely, grouping it with conceptually similar findings can illuminate
more general empirical patterns (Hunter & Schmidt, 2004; Wells, 2009).
This grouping is traditionally performed by reviewing literature on the subject and
drawing out patterns based on previous conclusions (i.e., a narrative review). Narrative
reviews, although invaluable for theoretical development, suffer from several limitations (e.g., researcher biases concerning inclusion and interpretation of findings or the
inability to assess the impact of methodological variations) that can be overcome by
use of a meta-analysis (Cooper, 2010; Hunter & Schmidt, 2004; Wilson, 2001). Crossnational research in particular appears to suffer from disorganization of theory and
discrepancies in empirical evidence. Due to a scarcity of available data at the international level, variables are often used as indicators for more than one theory (Pratt &
Cullen, 2005), obscuring the theoretical expectation as well as empirical reality.
Furthermore, Stamatels (2006) methodological review of cross-national research discovered potential biases due to site selection, outdated data, and a heavy reliance on
cross-sectional design. Although these are important findings, there is no way to determine through narrative review how much of an impact these methodological biases
may have had on the outcome variable and if this significantly affects the power of the
predictor tested. A meta-analysis can objectively accumulate and present the relevant
evidence to establish the strength and robustness of cross-national predictors, the
results of which can then be used to determine which theories get the most support
across studies.

Method
Inclusion Criteria and Literature Search
This article focuses on cross-national predictors of homicide, so the unit of analysis is
restricted to the national level. Studies had to be large-n (i.e., 10 or more nations
sampled), which Stamatel (2006) points out is only large compared with case studies. Indeed, as there are only approximately 200 nations, and merely a fraction of these
have data reliable enough to include in the study (Stamatel, 2009a), a cross-national
large-n sample may seem relatively miniscule.

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The outcome variable was restricted to homicide due to the lack of validity in all
other categories of international crime data (Neapolitan, 1997). Cross-national research
is highly conditional on the category of the crime statistics used due to cross-cultural
and operational differences in definitions and reporting (Marshall & Block, 2004; Van
Dijk, 2008). Homicide data are generally considered to be the most reliable by comparative criminologists as a victims body is most likely to come to the attention of
officials, regardless of reporting trends (Neapolitan, 1997). However, while focusing
on homicide may aid cross-cultural comparability, this restricts the interpretation and
generalization of results.
Relevant quantitative studies that fell within the time frame 1960-2010 were searched
for using the keywords cross-national or cross-cultural and crime, violence, murder, or
homicide. The search proceeded in three parts. First, major criminological journals were
canvassed issue by issue, especially those with a comparative and international focus.1
Second, scholarly electronic databases were searched using the keywords stated above
(Criminal Justice Abstracts, National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Sociological
Abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, Web of Knowledge, and Google
Scholar). In addition, international organizations publication databases were searched
to incorporate research outside journal publications (World Health Organization
[WHO] Library, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], and European
Institute for Crime Prevention and Control [HEUNI]). Third, previous syntheses were
scanned for cross-national studies that may have been missed. A total of 54 studies were
included (see appendix for a complete list), resulting in 316 effect sizes.

Effect Size Estimate


To precisely gauge how much a certain predictor influences the outcome, the effect
size, or the measure of the strength . . . and direction of a relationship between variables (Littell, Corcoran, & Pillai, 2008, p. 80) must be considered. These effect sizes,
when combined, can reveal the overall magnitude of like predictors. The measure of
relationship strength used here is the standardized correlation coefficient r. The r index
is used because it is most commonly employed in analyses concerning two continuous
variables and easily interpreted (Pratt & Cullen, 2005; Wilson, 2001). In correlational research, results are presented as either zero-order correlations or standardized
regression coefficients ().2 The latter is favored in the current analyses because
-coefficients can be considered a more accurate representation of the relationship,
whereas bivariate correlations may be inflated due to failure to account for exogenous
influences. Thus, with the caveat that effect size must be considered in context with
other predictors, mean effect sizes can be safely combined (Pratt & Cullen, 2005).

Fixed Versus Random Effects


There are two models available in meta-analysis: the fixed effects and random effects
model. The former rests on the assumption that there is one true effect size within the

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population, and all differences between effects can be accounted for by sampling error
alone (Cooper, 2010; Littell et al., 2008). In random effects models, variations within
and between studies are thought to differ according to model specification, concurrent
variables, or exogenous factors (Littell et al., 2008). Due to the nature of the effect
sizes preferred in this meta-analysis (-coefficients), the random effects model is
ideal. That is to say, as is an effect size controlling for all other included factors, the
random effects model can appropriately account for any variations occurring due to
differences in the regression model specification.

Independence
In many cases, research findings present more than one effect size. Multiple models
are often constructed to test for various moderating factors on one or more dependent
variables. Including more than one effect size drawn from the same sample threatens
assumptions of independence in meta-analytic procedure (Littell et al., 2008; Wilson,
2001). In cross-national research in particular, this assumption is in danger due to the
overreliance on convenience sampling (see Stamatel, 2006), which leads to similar
sample composition across studies. These overlapping samples create the potential for
a lack of statistical independence in both within- and between-study effect size estimates. However, as almost all studies include Western societies while very few manage to include Islamic or African nations, most studies will have a sample bias in the
same direction (i.e., toward developed rather than less developed societies). This bias
cannot be easily overcome, yet it remains important to conduct a meta-analysis to get
a comprehensive picture of cross-national knowledge. Therefore, one must proceed
with the added caveat that the results may be limited to developed countries.
There are several options to account for potential bias stemming from dependence:
to average the effect sizes for each predictor within each study to produce an overall
study estimate (Wilson, 2001), to choose only one effect size per study or, when multiple predictors are assessed against one dependent variable (e.g., income inequality
and urbanization on homicide), to assess each predictor separately (Littell et al., 2008).
The first and third options are preferable because, although averaging effect sizes and
analyzing separately somewhat reduce the power of the statistical procedures, the
option to select only one effect size may introduce unnecessary researcher bias when
deciding which effect size within a study to choose. Thus in the present analysis, an
average effect size was calculated per study for each predictor, then pooled and analyzed against methodological variations separately.

Heterogeneity of Effect Sizes


Pooling effect sizes must be done with careful consideration to both underlying conceptual and theoretical differences between studies as well as statistical heterogeneity
(Cooper, 2010; Littell et al., 2008). To ensure against this issue, only measures used
to operationalize the same concept are grouped together (e.g., gross domestic product

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[GDP], gross national product [GNP], and average income were grouped under
Economic Development), and a coefficient is calculated to test for extreme differences between grouped indicators using the meta-analytic analogue to the ANOVA
(Q) Borenstein, Hedges, Higgins, & Rothstein, 2009; Wilson, 2002). Any predictors that
demonstrate significant statistical heterogeneity are analyzed separately (e.g., ethnic
heterogeneity and ethnic homogeneity).

Predictor Domains
Due to considerable limitations to the availability and reliability of data, cross-national
research suffers from a rather modest development of theory (LaFree, 1999).
However, 11 perspectives were identified for exploration in this meta-analysis, from
which 30 separate predictors emerged. As a general rule, any variable with two or
more contributing independent effect sizes are included in the analysis (Littell et al.,
2008). This unfortunately led to the exclusion of several interesting predictors due to
unique operationalizations or a simple lack of contributing studies. What follows is a
brief overview of each theory, its primary predictor domains, and operationalizations.3

Absolute Deprivation
A link between area poverty and homicide is a consistent finding in most criminological research (Pratt & Cullen, 2005; Pridemore, 2002, 2008) stemming from the
idea that resource deprivation causes frustration, which ultimately may lead to aggression (Hsieh & Pugh, 1993). The pursuit of the povertycrime link is common in U.S.
literature but relatively lacking in cross-national research. Indeed, Pridemore (2008)
argues that the substantial evidence behind this association in the American context
demands the inclusion of poverty in comparative explanations and models. Poverty
indicators are not unknown to cross-national research but are often expressed by arguably theoretically ineffectual proxies such as GDP (Pridemore, 2008). Pridemore instead
advocates the more appropriate and conceptually encompassing proxy of Infant Mortality,
which is used here.4

Relative Deprivation
The theory of relative deprivation stems from a Mertonian anomie perspective, in that
blocked opportunities to achieving prescribed cultural goals cause individual frustration and aggression, which may lead to homicide (Chamlin & Cochran, 2006; LaFree,
1999). This societal imbalance is most often conceptualized by disparities in the distribution of wealth. Expressed in ratios or indices, the higher proportion of wealth
held by the top deciles compared with the bottom theoretically indicates a greater
potential for feelings of relative deprivation. Due to significant statistical heterogeneity, three predictors emerged for analysis: Economic Discrimination of Minorities,
Income Inequality Measured by Ratios, and Income Inequality Measured by Indices
(including the Gini Index).

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Modernization/Development
The Durkheimian-Modernization perspective is the earliest and consequentially most
common theoretical avenue explored in cross-national literature (LaFree, 1999). Although
technically encompassing a wider range of theories including anomie and social disorganization, the Durkheimian-Modernization perspective aims to explain the increase
in crime through changing social patterns, which have as a result disrupted traditional
methods of social control (Hartnagel & Mizanuddin, 1986; LaFree, 1999; Shichor,
1990). The shift from agricultural to industrial labor, advances in technology and communication, increases in access to education, and breakdowns in traditional community structure are considered evidence of modernization (Austin & Kim, 1999; Howard
& Smith, 2003). Development is thought to adversely affect crime rates in a similar
fashion to modernization (Bennett, 1991), yet researchers have noted that the association between measures of modernization/development and homicide appears to be
negative rather than positive (DiCristina, 2004; Kick & LaFree, 1985). Because of this,
scholars have turned to more opportunity-based interpretations to explain this relationship: modernization works to increase the level of available goods and motivated
offenders for theft, while simultaneously breaking down interpersonal ties that consequently diminish interpersonal violence (Kick & LaFree, 1985).
In practice, modernization and development predictors are dispersed across many
different theories, factored into indices, and variously operationalized. Thus the grouping done here focuses on what underlying concept the predictor is trying to capture.
The Modernization predictor included three operationalizations: newspapers per
1,000, energy consumption per capita, and an index created by Howard and Smith
(2003). Predictors encompassing access to education were Adult Literacy and Female
Higher Education Enrolment. Development was subdivided into two separate predictors: economic and human. Economic Development combined measures of GDP per
capita, GNP per capita, and average income per capita. Human Development measures
ranged from factored indices created by the author to the use of the Human Development
Index drawn from the United Nations.

Social Disorganization
Social disorganization theory follows much of the same line of thought as DurkheimianModernization perspectives and therefore will only be discussed briefly. Social changes
that alter the family and community structure are thought to affect the efficiency of
informal controls that previously prevented deviant behavior (Shaw & McKay, 1942).
Population heterogeneity and household disruption are seen as the primary sources of
discord in maintaining networks of control, leading to higher homicide rates (Gartner,
1990). Two conceptually distinct predictors emerged for social disorganization: household disruption as measured by the Divorce Rate and ethnic composition measured in
terms of Ethnic Heterogeneity and Ethnic Homogeneity. Jensens (2001) multicultural
and Antonaccio and Tittles (2007) population heterogeneity variables were combined
into the ethnic heterogeneity predictor.

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Institutional Anomie Theory


Drawing on Esping-Andersons concept of decommodification and Mertons strain
theory, Messner and Rosenfeld (1997) devised institutional anomie theory to explain
the interrelated effects of social and economic structures on crime. Simplistically
speaking, it follows the Marxist line of thought that the dominance of economic institutions creates a harmful environment for the populace, leading to crime. In combating
this harm, the welfare state provides services, rights, and safety from the anomic pressures of a market-dominant, goal-oriented society (Altheimer, 2008; Bjerregaard &
Cochran, 2008; Messner & Rosenfeld, 1997). Thus the higher the levels of decommodificationor protection from the severity of the market, whether through policy or
familythe lower the potential for crime. The primary predictor used to measure institutional anomie theory is the Decommodification Index, although several studies also
employ measures of welfare expenditures. The Decommodification Index is created by
combining measures of social welfare expenditures as a percentage of GDP, average
annual benefits per capita, and the percentage of benefits given to employment injuries
(Altheimer, 2008, p. 107). Straightforward measures of welfare expenditures, however,
will be grouped under social support theory. In addition, Bjerregaard and Cochran
(2008) opted to measure the strength of economic institutions with the Economic
Freedom Index and therefore could not be appropriately included in the analysis.

Social Support
Interrelated with institutional anomie theory, the social support (or altruism, see
Chamlin & Cochran, 1997) perspective aims to explain homicide based on levels of
local and government welfare provisions. This can be in the form of social security,
health care, a community program, or family bonds, as they all commonly promote an
environment of mutual trust and reciprocity that effectively prevents crime (Colvin,
Cullen, & Ven, 2002). At the national level, social support is expressed as government
welfare expenditures, although emerging research investigating levels of generalized
trust and volunteerism (e.g., Halpern, 2001) may also be construed as indicators of
informal support. Thus the predictors comprising Social Support are percentage GNP
spent on welfare, health care, or education. Effect sizes within studies that included
more than one of these variables were averaged.

Routine Activity
Situational perspectives encompass routine activity theory, claiming that changes
brought by modernization have altered population patterns, effectively increasing the
opportunity for crime (Cohen & Felson, 1979; LaFree, 1999). The theoretical concepts of routine activity theory are interpersonal contacts, opportunity/access to
goods, pool of motivated offenders, and guardianship. Essentially, changing structural
factors (e.g., population growth, urbanization) bring together both potential offenders

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(e.g., youth population) and potential targets (e.g., industrial goods) in unsupervised
situations (due to female labor force participation), which can lead to acts of crime.
Like modernization and development theories, the predictors used for these concepts
tend to overlap with other perspectives. Consequently, three general predictors were
drawn from the pool of studies: Persons per Household for interpersonal contacts,
Female Labor Participation for guardianship, and Unemployment for motivated
offenders.

Deterrence
Based on the assumption that offenders make rational decisions to commit a crime by
weighing potential consequences and benefits, deterrence theory posits that the more
the criminal justice system activity, the lower the crime (Pratt, Cullen, Blevins, Daigle,
& Madensen, 2006). In other words, the more visible the potential costs to committing crime (i.e., the death penalty, high clearance rates, longer sentencing), the less
likely an individual would be to act. Although extensively studied on the macro level
within the United States, deterrence theory is somewhat rare in cross-national
research, producing only six effect sizes from studies, of which the majority are included
as secondary or control variables. The Deterrence predictor was formed combining
three measures of criminal justice system activity: the number of police personnel,
clearance rate, and a death penalty dummy variable.

Political Structure
Political structure may influence homicide in a variety of ways. For instance, one
perspective places democracy alongside modernization forces that work to diffuse
social control and discipline among the populace (Lin, 2007). Alternatively, oppressive characteristics of a nondemocratic political regime may affect levels of homicide
by exposing the population to officially sanctioned violence (Stamatel, 2009b). Both
of these share the basic hypothesis, however, that democracy or democratic values are
inversely related to violence. Studies that seek to explain cross-national homicide
from a political perspective tend to focus on levels of Democracy or Political Rights,
as measured by indices. The political rights predictor consists of a combination of the
Civil Liberties Index and Political Rights Index produced by Freedom House. In studies where both indices were included as independent variables, these values were
averaged to create a single effect size.

Culture
The concept of culture is captured in many ways in cross-national research. Some
authors indicate unique cultural differences through the inclusion of a regional
dummy variable. For example, Neapolitan (1994) included a dummy variable for
Latin American nations in his analysis to determine if simply being a Latin American

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nation can predict homicide rates. He argues that Latin American nations maintain
certain cultural values (e.g., machismo) that favor the use of violence. The interpretation of these results consequently hinges on controlling for important structural factors,
but the dummy ultimately represents certain characteristics unmeasured by traditional
variables. In this sense, regional dummy variables are very important in attempting to
encapsulate often difficult-to-operationalize cultural predictors (Pridemore, 2002).
The regional dummies included in this analysis are Latin American and Caribbean
Nations, East Asian Nations (e.g., Japan), and Western Nations (e.g., the United States,
the United Kingdom). Only one study (Austin & Kim, 1999) considered an African
region variable and therefore could not be included.
Several interesting predictors were unfortunately excluded for their singularity:
Halperns (2001) measure of moral values, Pampel and Gartners (1995) Collectivism
Scale, Lederman, Loayza, and Menendezs (2002) measurement of religiosity, Jensens
(2001) religious fundamentalism variable, and McAlisters (2006) aggregated measurement of attitudes toward violence.5 Although it is not possible to draw conclusions
about the significance of these predictors on a meta-analytic level, the more general
question concerning structural versus sociocultural indicators can address whether
these areas are worth further pursuit in cross-national research.

Demographic Predictors
Demographic predictors are most commonly included in cross-national research as
control variables, implying that each of these factors plays a significant enough role
in influencing homicide rates that they cannot be ignored in the model. Theoretically,
demographic variables are generally claimed as predictors for social disorganization
(e.g., urbanization, youth population, ethnic heterogeneity), routine activity (e.g., youth
population, population density), or modernization (e.g., population growth and density,
urbanization). However, many studies include demographic controls merely based on
the fact that previous studies have done the same. Often ignored in results sections in
favor of the target variables, the question remains as to exactly what effect these demographic predictors have on homicide.
The predictors gathered considered population characteristics, youth population
proportion, sex ratio, and urbanization. The population characteristics were subdivided into population growth, population density, and population total. Due to significant statistical heterogeneity, the proportion of youth population (i.e., age structure)
was divided into two predictors: age <15 and age 15 and above. Sex Ratio is measured
by the ratio of males to females and measures of Urbanism by the percentage of people
living in urban areas.

Methodological Variations
It is important to code for variations in design, data source, and measurement to
account for possible methodological influences in the outcome variable. These coded

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variations can then be analyzed as moderator variables when conducting the


ANOVA analogue and meta-regression (Cooper, 2010; Littell et al., 2008). In some
cases, an inadequate number of effect sizes prevented analyses of moderator variables, and in these instances the effect sizes are merely ranked according to strength.
Drawing from Stamatels (2006) criticisms of cross-national research concerning the
considerable restrictions imposed by outdated data (time) and limited sample size
(space), this study specifically aims to assess the relative impact of these variations on resulting effect sizes. In addition, certain categorical variables such as data
source and a quality indicator are assessed to determine the robustness of the mean
effect sizes.

Time
A researchers choice of model and design can affect how one is to interpret their
results. In particular, time specifications, such as cross-sectional versus longitudinal
designs, reflect the assumptions made about the relationships between predictors and
crime. In cross-national research, an overwhelming majority of studies are specified as
cross-sectional or pooled cross-sectional time series due to the assumption that time
does not matter (Stamatel, 2006, p. 190). Dugan (2010) argues that this assumption
ignores the inherent dynamic quality of crime data, effectively confound[ing] the
cause with the effect (p. 741). Unfortunately, very few cross-national studies incorporated time-series analyses, making any categorical comparisons difficult. In light of
this, time was instead conceptualized in terms of the year from which homicide data
were drawn. This time artifact may signify an important meaning between certain predictors and a particular period in time. Data drawn from a certain year (or across years)
are accompanied by a corresponding array of possible political, social, or cultural
events for each nation, which may or may not be reflected in the target predictor variables. In other words, studies using older data may have time-specific contextual differences hitherto unknown before placed alongside more recent findings.
For the meta-regression analysis, the year from which the homicide data were
drawn was coded as a continuous variable for each study. Cross-national research
routinely computes homicide averages over periods of time to avoid fluctuations in
reported rates. In these cases, the latest year included in the average was recorded.

Sample Size and Selection


Sample size is a critical issue in much cross-national research. The lack of available
data for both crime and predictor statistics often severely limits the sample composition to primarily industrialized, highly developed nations (Stamatel, 2006; Marshall
et al., 2009). This limitation may affect the outcome in both a statistical and contextual manner. In a statistical sense, small samples may lack the power and precision to
correctly detect an effect (Britt & Weisburd, 2010), which can partially be solved by
conducting a meta-analysis (Hunter & Schmidt, 2004). Moreover, examining the

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relationship between sample size and effect size through meta-regression can illuminate exactly how statistical power affects the outcome.
Alternatively, implicit in the sample size is the distribution of nations, whereby the
larger the sample, the more diverse the range of countries and contexts. This meaning
of sample size attends to the idea that outcomes may be significantly biased by crossnational criminologys reliance on convenience sampling, consequently producing a
rather narrow picture of global crime (Stamatel, 2009a). One of the fundamental quests
in comparative criminology is the search for universal relationships, trends, or meanings among numerous cultural contexts (Karstedt, 2001). Therefore, the sampling
selection acts as a key ingredient to the testing of criminological theory: significant
results that hold over a large distribution of contexts add strength to that perspective.
Conversely, if a predictors effect is significantly reduced by an increase in sample,
this might signify contextual differences held by nations that may alter the roles and
meanings of the targeted theoretical concept.

Categorical Variables: Data Source and Quality


There are several sources of international crime statistics: the Comparative Crime
Data File [CCDF], the United Nations, WHO, the International Criminal and Police
Organization [Interpol], HEUNI, and the European Sourcebook. The strengths and
limitations of these data sources are reported extensively elsewhere (see Howard &
Smith, 2003; Marshall & Block, 2004; Marshall et al., 2009; Van Dijk, 2008) and
therefore are only briefly discussed here, but it is important to note that WHO homicide statistics are considered to be the most reliable (Neapolitan, 1997). International
data sources have been criticized for several reasons, namely, the variation in international definitions of intentional and unintentional homicide, the ambiguity pertaining
to the inclusion or exclusion or attempted homicides in overall data, and the potential
for official misclassification of violent deaths (Marshall & Block, 2004). The use of
different and potentially unreliable data sources may significantly compromise the
results, producing misleading conclusions. Therefore, each study will be coded according to the source of data used: CCDF, United Nations, WHO, Interpol, Other (including HEUNI and European Sourcebook). In cases where data are drawn from multiple
sources, these will be coded as mixed.
To account for potential differences in quality, each report was coded by whether it
was peer-reviewed. Analyzing the differences between these categories can help
assess the file-drawer problem, which is the tendency of journals to favor publishing
significant over nonsignificant results (Rosenthal, 1979).

Statistical Analysis
Following standard meta-analytical procedure, effect sizes drawn from studies are
transformed into z(r) values using Fishers r-to-z transformation and pooled into mean
effect size estimates (Littell et al., 2008; Pratt & Cullen, 2005; Wilson, 2001). This

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process normalizes the sampling distribution of r, which is skewed for all nonzero
values. Using the random effects procedures, the estimates are then weighted by their
inverse variance (Borenstein et al., 2009). Diagnostic tests are also conducted to test
for heterogeneity by using the ANOVA analogue (Q) to detect significant differences
between predictor subcategories.6 Any extreme effect size values are divided into
separate predictors to minimize bias. In addition, a coefficient of heterogeneity (Q) is
computed to examine the distribution of effects around the mean (Borenstein et al.,
2009). A heterogeneity coefficient can indicate how widely individual effect sizes
vary for a given predictor. The resulting mean effect size estimates are then ranked by
overall strength. Using Wilsons (2002) macros for SPSS, the meta-analytic analogue
to the ANOVA is performed on selected categorical variables to detect significant
differences in effect sizes between the data sources used as well as whether the study
was peer reviewed. Generalized least squares meta-regression is used for analyzing
influences of time and sample size on effect sizes. Analyses are conducted separately
to maintain independence among effect size estimates.

Results
The results are presented in the following order: Information about the sample of studies is described, mean effect sizes and confidence intervals organized by theory are
presented (Table 1) and then rank-ordered for clarity (Table 2), categorical influences
in design are investigated (Table 3), and finally meta-regression results are considered
in relation to time and sample size (Table 4).

Sample Characteristics
The number of countries included in the sampled studies ranged from 11 to 100, with
an average of 44 and a mode of 44 nations. The most frequently tested indicators were
measures of economic development (n = 37), followed by income inequality indices
(n = 31) and urbanism (n = 27). Predictors with the fewest contributing effect sizes
are the cultural region variables (n = 2 each), literacy rates (n = 2), female education
indicators (n = 3), household size (n = 3), unemployment (n = 4), and the
Decommodification Index (n = 4). Overall, demographic, relative deprivation, and
development perspectives are most often the subject of cross-national inquiry,
whereas cultural region indicators, institutional anomie theory, deterrence, and political perspectives are the most infrequent.

Strength of Effects
Table 1 presents the mean effect sizes, contributing study sample, and 95% confidence intervals for each predictor. Table 1 shows that there remains a need for research
in many theoretical areas, as the majority of predictors have less than 10 contributing
effect sizes. Consequently, this adds tentativeness to interpretation.

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Table 1. Mean Effect Sizes () by Predictor Domain


Predictor
domain
Absolute
deprivation
Institutional
anomie
theory
Culture

Demographic

Deterrence
Relative
deprivation

Development

Political
structure
Routine
activity
Social
disorganization

Social support

Predictor

Study N

Mr

Infant mortality

Decommodification

West
East
Latin America
Urbanism
Population density
Population growth
Population total
Sex ratio
Age > 15
Age < 15
Income inequality
(ratio)
Income inequality
(index)
Economic
discrimination
Index
Economic
development
Modernization
Female education
Literacy
Democracy indices
Political rights
Household size
Female labor
Unemployment
Ethnic
heterogeneity
Ethnic homogeneity
Divorce

CI L

CI U

.196*

.019

.362

27.406***

.279**

.415

.131

2
2
2
27
12
9
16
15
17
8
6
13

.108
.326***
.445***
.103
.012
.251**
.024
.095
.116***
.100
.072
.416***

.302
.484
.255
.049
.097
.080
.101
.243
.054
.227
.018
.339

.094
.149
.602
.028
.074
.407
.053
.058
.177
.030
.160
.488

0.573
1.053
1.654
24.023***
6.104
24.321
22.569
60.413***
23.509
2.360
5.393
4.605

31

.224***

.149

.297

80.626***

.136

.066

.328

15.282***

14
37

.163**
.055

.274
.137

.047
.028

28.124***
182.662***

9
3
2
6
5
3
13
4
12

.173
.110
.219
.012
.088
.166
.223*
.043
.163**

.344
.457
.218
.366
.230
.317
.027
.042
.046

.009
.614
.583
.346
.056
.581
.402
.128
.275

33.955***
20.650***
2.354
153.777***
4.520
20.217***
85.509***
5.175
19.600

5
10
15

.247*
.277***
.072

.423
.157
.164

.052
.389
.020

13.750
2.261
29.785***

2.453

Note: Mr = mean effect size correlation coefficient after weighting and transformations; CIL = 95% confidence interval
lower limit; CIU = 95% confidence interval upper limit; Q = heterogeneity coefficient indicating distribution of effects
around the mean (Borenstein, Hedges, Higgins, & Rothstein, 2009). All analyses were performed on Fishers z values and
subsequently transformed back to r for presentation.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

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Table 2. Rank-Ordered Mean Effect Sizes
Rank
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15

Predictor

Mr

Rank

Predictor

Mr

Latin American nation


Income inequality (ratio)
Eastern nation
Decommodification
Index
Divorce rate
Population growth
Ethnic homogeneity
Income inequality
(indices)
Female labor
participation
Literacy (%)
Infant mortality
Modernization
Household size
Development index
Ethnic heterogeneity

.445*
.416*
.326*
.279*

16
17
18
19

Economic discrimination
Age structure (age > 15)
Female education (%)
Western nation

.136
.116*
.110
.109

.277*
.251*
.247*
.224*

20
21
22
23

Urbanism
Age structure (age < 15)
Sex ratio
Political rights

.103
.100
.095
.088

.223*

24

Social support

.072

.219
.197*
.173
.166
.163*
.163*

25
26
27
28
29
30

Deterrence
Economic development
Unemployment
Population total
Democracy index
Population density

.072
.055
.043
.024
.012
.012

Significant predictors (*p<.05).

Income inequality as measured by ratios and indices prove to be strong predictors


of homicide (Mr = .416, p < .001 and Mr = .224, p < .001, respectively), with a decent
amount of contributing studies each. Decommodification and infant mortality, with a
modest number of contributing effect sizes, show relatively moderate relationships
with homicide (Mr = .279, p < .01, n = 4 and Mr = .196, p < .05, n = 8, respectively).
Other usual predictors in cross-national models, however, do not demonstrate the
same significance. Common demographic control variables present weak and highly
variable mean effects. Only population growth (Mr = .251, p < .01) and youth population above age 15 (Mr = .116, p < .001) emerge as significant.
All but one social disorganization predictor showed strong effects, particularly
those related to ethnic composition. Ethnic heterogeneity (Mr = .163, p < .01) and
ethnic homogeneity (Mr = .247, p < .05) taken together reveal the impact of population composition. In addition, the medium positive effect of divorce on homicide (Mr =
.277, p < .001) ranks as one of the strongest predictors (see Table 2).
Development has been a long-standing interest in cross-national research, and in
particular measures of economic advancement such as GDP and GNP. However, the
mean effect size and confidence intervals portray economic development as a weak
predictor at best (Mr = .055, 95% CI = [.137, 0.028]). Human development, capturing

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Table 3. Significant Methodological Variations Using the ANOVA Analogue for Selected
Predictors
Moderator variable
Predictor

Peer-reviewa

Data source (df)

0.023
0.085
0.004
0.399
7.413**
0.196
n/ab
0.170
0.357
0.037
1.311
0.100
0.143

4.190 (3)
2.612 (4)
3.795 (3)
2.631 (3)
0.997 (2)
3.788 (4)
2.249 (3)
2.217 (4)
8.267** (3)
3.728 (1)
12.044** (4)
4.599 (2)
0.685 (3)

Income inequality (indices)


Income inequality (ratio)
Development index
Economic development
Social support
Urbanism
Population density
Population total
Sex ratio
Age structure (age > 15)
Female labor participation
Ethnic heterogeneity
Divorce

Note: df = degrees of freedom. Numbers in the columns are the meta-analytic analogue to the ANOVA
(Q) and are interpreted as the F statistic found in traditional ANOVA analyses.
a. For all peer-reviewed results, df = 1.
b. All studies including population density were peer reviewed.
**p < .01.

Table 4. Generalized Least Squares Regression Results for Time and Space on Selected Mean
Effect Size Predictors
Predictor

Time

Income inequality (indices)


Income inequality (ratio)
Development index
Economic development
Social support
Urbanism
Population density
Population total
Sex ratio
Age structure (age > 15)
Female labor participation
Ethnic heterogeneity
Divorce

.190
.366
.073
.228
.157
.008
.149
.298
.321
.495**
.143
.539
.182

Sample size
.321*
.620
.348
.072
.162
.051
.169
.107
.352
.186
.387
.877**
.793

R2
.165
.507
.095
.054
.038
.003
.068
.065
.166
.230
.183
.430
.439

Note: Standardized regression coefficients () shown represent the relationship between methodological
moderators and mean effect sizes (Borenstein, Hedges, Higgins, & Rothstein, 2009).
*p < .05. **p < .01.

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a wider range of societal change, displays a much stronger negative impact on homicide (Mr = .163, p < .01).
Interestingly, two of the top three predictors when ranked are cultural region dummies (see Table 2). Latin American and Caribbean nations show a strong positive
effect on homicide (Mr = .445, p < .001), whereas East Asian dummies have the converse effect (Mr = .326, p < .001).

Methodological Variations
The investigation of categorical moderating variables produced few significant results
(see Table 3). This may be due to insufficient or unbalanced between-group sample
sizes for most predictors. Assumptions of independence prevented predictors from
being pooled for moderator analyses, which would have granted a sufficient sample.
Nevertheless, predictors with more than 10 contributing studies were analyzed using
the meta-analytic analogue to the ANOVA (Wilson, 2002).
Only three predictors showed significant fluctuations between methodological
variations, and even so there appears to be no discernable pattern. The effects of
female labor and sex ratio were significantly influenced by the data source used (Q =
12.043, p < .05 and Q = 8.266, p < .05, respectively); however, the specific group
effects vary. For female labor, only Interpol and HEUNI/European Sourcebook data
show significant positive effects (MInterpol = .305, p < .05, n = 4; MOther = .546, p < .05,
n = 2). In comparison, the sex ratio predictor is only significant and negative when
using WHO data (MWHO = .204, p < .05, n = 10). Interestingly, the UN and Interpol
data report a positive effect between sex ratio and homicide, although these are not
significant.
Finally, effect sizes for social support were significantly different when divided by
whether they were peer reviewed. Here, peer-reviewed studies show more significant
results as expected due to the file-drawer problem (Mpeer = .110, p < .05, n = 15).
Importantly, the non-peer-reviewed effect sizes were positive but nearly significant
(Mnonpeer = .213, p = .053, n = 2), effectively bringing the overall mean effect size to
nonsignificance.
The findings reported here can only be considered tentative, and any significant
differences must be viewed with caution. That measurement dependence is a significant factor for only two variables may be indicative of a wider problem in data reliability, or alternatively, as a reassuring sign that most effects are not significantly
affected by how homicide is measured.

Time and Sample Size


Similar limitations apply to the meta-regression, although the varying results can
signify the dynamic properties of cross-national predictors. Table 4 presents the standardized coefficients for data year (time) and sample size when regressed on selected
predictors (i.e., those with 10 or more contributing effect sizes). Income inequality as

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measured by indices and ethnic heterogeneity were the only predictors significantly
related to sample size ( = .321, p < .05 and = .877, p < .01, respectively). Income
inequality measured by ratios and divorce rate show a similar relationship ( = .620,
p = .183 and = .793, p = .062, respectively) but do not reach significance.
However, the effect of youth population (15+) appears to decrease through time ( = .495,
p < .01).

Discussion
Cross-national research is a comparatively recent venture in the application of criminological theory. The transference of theory on this larger unit of analysis has naturally occurred with the advancement of international data; however, the state of
knowledge in this realm remains relatively disorganized. In particular, a focus on
structural predictors of crimeperhaps the easiest data to obtainhas obscured the
influence of more complex sociocultural concepts such as Latin American machismo
(Neapolitan, 1994), generalized trust (Halpern, 2001; Lederman et al., 2002), or religious beliefs (Antonaccio & Tittle, 2007). On the large-n scale, these are difficult
to reliably operationalize, and whether these concepts can or should be pursued on this
level remains an open question. Many of the sociocultural predictors had too few contributing effect sizes to make accurate judgments about their worth in cross-national
research. However, in contrast to the predictors that were most often included in
designs (e.g., urbanism, economic development), sociocultural predictors showed the
strongest relationship with homicide. This signifies the need to reconsider which
social mechanisms are important at the national level.
Individually, certain predictors such as income inequality and age structure demonstrate interesting results. Poverty, inequality, ethnic composition, youth population
above age 15, and divorce are all well-known predictors that emerged strong and positive as expected based on previous findings (Hsieh & Pugh, 1993; LaFree, 1999; Land,
McCall, & Cohen, 1990). Income inequality, as measured by the Gini Index, ranked
somewhat lower than when measured by ratios, signifying a possible conceptual
departure between the two predictors. Index-measured income inequality was also the
only predictor to be significantly affected by sample size, supporting doubts about the
robustness and validity of the Gini Index made by cross-national scholars (Messner,
Raffalovich, & Shrock, 2002; Neapolitan, 1997; Pratt & Godsey, 2003; Pridemore &
Trent, 2010). However, ratio-based income inequality, although nonsignificant, appeared
to be subject to differences in methodology, whereby half of the variation between
effect sizes is attributable to changes in time and sample size. The observed vulnerability of both indicators of income inequality to differences in contexts places this
usually robust predictor under scrutiny. As there are a decent amount of studies reporting these strong effect sizes for income inequality and it is unlikely that every one of
them has made a Type II error, it is reasonable to conjecture that income inequality
operates differently outside the developed, industrialized nations that typically comprise the core sample in comparative research. This does not dismiss the importance
of income inequality in explaining homicide, and indeed these findings indicate the

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need to control for such a strong predictor. Nevertheless, sample distribution, and
subsequently context, must be carefully considered in future models.
Other predictors show considerable promise based on the size of their effects, including decommodification, regional indicators, human development indices, and adult literacy. As a measure of institutional anomie theory, the Decommodification Index
proves to be a significant influence on national homicide rates. However, when placed
alongside the relatively weak effect of social support, the idea that protection from
market forces via governmental aid will prevent homicide becomes dubious. The index
itself incorporates a measure of welfare expenditures, so it is unclear as to which mechanisms are effectively operating in relation to homicide. Governmental support appears
to have very little effect on national homicide rates; however, some scholars suggest
certain types of aid may be more important in preventing frustration and aggression than
others (Altheimer, 2008). Furthermore, these predictors only capture support provided
by public means, whereas nongovernmental sources, such as family, community programs, and religious organizations, may provide more effective means of social support
(Chamlin & Cochran, 1997; Colvin et al., 2002). Therefore, future research should consider developing more precise indicators of private and public social support (see also
Pratt & Cullen, 2005), and disaggregate the Decommodification Index used to test institutional anomie theory to identify the specific mechanisms at work.
Regional predictors require some interpretation, as each could potentially represent
a number of characteristics (Pridemore, 2002). Neapolitan (1994) uses the Latin
American and Caribbean dummy variable to capture values that permeate the region
and promote violent behavior, namely machismo. By way of providing historical context, however, Neapolitan gives way to alternative explanations that align more closely
with a political perspective. Characterized by a long history of revolution, political
terrorism, and authoritarian leadership, many Latin American nations have been continually exposed to legitimized official violence and political oppression (Ayres,
1998). Furthermore, the strong presence of the drug trade throughout many of these
countries presents additional outlets and opportunities for violence (United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime, 2007). However, an East Asian region dummy is expected
to have an inverse effect on homicide due to accompanying religious and cultural
characteristics. Nations such as Japan gather significant scholarly attention in criminology due to their seemingly unique maintenance of low crime rates in the face of
rapid social transformations (Leonardsen, 2004). Whether it is the communitarian values conveyed through Islam and Confucianism (Antonaccio & Tittle, 2007), strong
informal social controls (Adler, 1983; Komiya, 1999), or a strong paternalistic government (Austin, 1987), the operation of social mechanisms in East Asian nations are
considered anomalous to the West. While the significance of these cultural findings is
dampened by the small amount of contributing studies, at the very least they further
attest to the consequence of spatial context in cross-national research. Future research
should aim to qualitatively and quantitatively develop each of these cultural mechanisms to precisely test them on the cross-national scale.
Measures of development and modernization are some of the most frequently tested
predictors in cross-national research but surprisingly demonstrate rather weak overall

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effects. Excepting education indicators, the general negative relationships support the
opportunity-based theoretical explanations (Agha, 2009; Kick & LaFree, 1985;
Shelley, 1981). Interestingly, only development measured by indices showed a significant effect, and even so a relatively small one. As the majority of studies used factored
indices as an indicator of development, the exact variables and hence precise relationships are difficult to decipher. Development indices generally tend to represent a combination of societal and economic levels of development through indicators such as
education enrollment, human rights scales, GNP/GDP per capita, population growth,
or infant mortality. Individually, these predictors portray a very different picture than
when they are combined: infant mortality, population growth, and education indicators show medium positive relationships whereas economic and political rights indicators show small negative relationships. Which predictor is the greater influence?
Which is more theoretically and empirically important? Some criminologists argue
that lumping together social processes and covariates merely obscures causality and
hinders interpretation (Cook, Shagle, & Degirmencioglu, 1997; Land et al., 1990;
Sampson, 2006b). Development is a highly complex and longitudinal concept that
defies one-dimensional operationalizations (Inglehart & Welzel, 2005; LaFree &
Tseloni, 2006). Thus the problem here is essentially a theoretical one. Alternatively, as
Sampson (2006b) explains, [n]o statistical method can solve what is fundamentally a
theoretical issue about causal mechanisms (p. 52).
It is important to note that economic developmentincluded in almost all of the
sample studiesproved to be consistently immaterial to the explanation of homicide.
This result, combined with the confusion in the theoretical literature, perhaps indicates
that it is time to move past the use of this variable in cross-national designs. Not surprisingly, it appears that the distribution of wealth in a society is more important in
predicting homicide rates than total or per capita measures of wealth (see Land et al.,
1990). Thus if economic development is to remain in cross-national discourse, researchers must investigate how political and cultural factors may influence the uneven spread
of wealth in societies.
Other commonly included demographic variables show similar ineffectual patterns: urbanism, population density, population total, youth population less than age
15, and sex ratio. Although these are often used as control variables, the general weakness of these predictors carries implications for the Durkheimian-Modernization,
social disorganization, and routine activity theories as well. In each of these perspectives, there is the hypothesis that the close proximity of youth (primarily males)
will increase crime. Although nonsignificant and generally negligible, the mean
effects are all negatively related to homicide. However, this must be considered
with caution, as it is equally likely these predictors are simply irrelevant to homicide
at the national level. For population density, population total and youth population
below 15, the weak findings were robust across methodological variations, indicating that these can be safely excluded from future cross-national designs without
consequence.
Interestingly, the somewhat small effect of youth population aged above 15 is augmented by its susceptibility to time. The significant decrease in the effect of the size of

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youth population as data become more recent bares consequence to the proclaimed
invariance of the agecrime curve (see Hirschi & Gottfredson, 1983). The direct effect
of the agecrime relationship is not disputed here, as a generous amount of studies confirm a positive effect. However, the strength of the association appears to have declined
with time. Speculative reasoning may suggest that the impact of age composition may
rely on time-specific, often exogenous, factors. Alternatively, with the advance of new
sources of indicator data, influences that were previously unaccounted for are now being
included in cross-national research, portraying a more accurate model of homicide.
Democracy indices proved rather weak influences on homicide overall, though this
may be attributable to the lack of empirical and theoretical development of the specific
mechanisms involved (Stamatel, 2008). The large body of emerging research on crime
in post-Communist nations suggests that processes of democratization are dependent
on political culture and economic conditions (e.g., Karstedt, 2003; Stamatel, 2008).
Thus even within a region undergoing similar democratic transitions, the impact on
homicide is not always the same. Furthermore, LaFree and Tseloni (2006) stress the
use of the word processes, arguing that democracy, like modernization, development,
and globalization, is a longitudinal concept that must be examined over time. Therefore
more sociohistorical comparative research that focuses on a particular region, as in the
post-Communist example above, is needed to better understand how the change to
democracy interacts with cultural institutions and values (Karstedt, 2003).

Conclusions
This meta-analysis confirmed the importance of cross-national predictors that represent levels of social integration and stability in explaining homicide. Certain predictors, such as population density, economic development, and deterrence, show very
little impact on national-level homicide and must be carefully reevaluated if included
in future research. However, it also confirmed concerns about theoretical and methodological limitations to cross-national research (Marshall & Block, 2004; Marshall
et al., 2009; Stamatel, 2006; Van Dijk, 2008), namely, the following:
Samples are small and biased. On average, only about 20% of the global
population of countries are covered, of which the overwhelming majority are
primarily developed and industrialized.
Indicators are theoretically vague, with considerable empirical overlap and
no agreement on operationalization.
Time is nearly nonexistent in cross-national research, as designs predominantly favor cross-sectional over longitudinal.
These limitations require future research to incorporate predictors into models with
careful theoretical consideration toward disentangling overlapping covariates and sample
composition. Theories that rely on factored indices, proxy indicators, and highly correlated
variables in particular must clarify the mechanisms involved to sort out empirical
discrepancies. Overall, the overwhelming use of cross-sectional design to test the

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effects of social change on homicide seems rather unproductive and ineffectual. As


the lack of reliable long-term international data hinders longitudinal research, comparative criminology must use a more contextual, targeted approach to examine the
processes of change (Marshall & Marshall, 1983; Stamatel, 2006).
As for the question pertaining to structural versus sociocultural predictors, the relative worth of the latter examined here is certainly promising, although more theoretical
and operational development is needed. The goal was not to champion one perspective
over the other, and indeed categorizing predictors strictly as structural or sociocultural
is fruitless. Instead, what this meta-analysis suggests is that the relationship between
structural and sociocultural context may be inextricably intertwined.

Appendix
List of Contributing Studies
Author(s)

Year

Author(s)

Year

Agha
Altheimer
Altheimer
Antonaccio and Tittle
Austin and Kim
Avison and Loring
Babones
Barber
Barber
Bennett and Bennett
Bjerregaard and Cochran
Braithwaite and Braithwaite
Butchart and Engstrm
Clark
Gartner
Gartner
Groves, McCleary, and Newman
Hansmann and Quigley
Hartnagel
Hartnagel and Mizanuddin
He, Cao, Wells, and Maguire
Howard and Smith
Huang
Jacobs and Richardson
Jensen
Kick and LaFree

2009
2007
2008
2007
1999
1986
2008
2009
2004
1983
2008
1980
2002
1989
1990
1991
1985
1982
1982
1986
2003
2003
1995
2008
2001
1985

1978
1977
1986
2002
2001
1999
1995
2007
1982
1985
1997
2002
1994
1998
1995
2006
2002
2003
2008
1983
2008
2000
1990
2007
1992
2007

Krahn, Hartnagel, and Gartrell

1986

Krohn
Krohn and Wellford
LaFree and Kick
Lederman, Loayza, and Menendez
Lee
Lee and Bankston
Li
Lin
Messner
Messner
Messner and Rosenfeld
Messner et al.
Neapolitan
Neapolitan
Pampel and Gartner
Par
Pratt and Godsey
Pratt and Godsey
Pridemore
Rahav
Savage, Bennett, and Danner
Savolainen
Shichor
Sun, Sung, and Chu
Unnithan and Whitt
United Nations Office on Drugs
and Crime
Van Wilsem

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2004

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the PhD writing group at the Institute of Criminology, her
supervisor Prof. Manuel Eisner, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on
an earlier draft of this article.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests


The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article.

Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of
this article.

Notes
1. Individual journals searched were Criminology, Homicide Studies, European Journal of
Criminology, Asian Journal of Criminology, British Journal of Criminology, International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, and International Journal of
Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.
2. Effect sizes reported in unstandardized b-coefficient format were standardized using the
SD
following equation: = b SD .Where SDx and SDy are the standard deviations of the indepen

dent and dependent variable, respectively, and b is the reported unstandardized regression
coefficient.
3. It is important to note that the grouping of certain predictors with theories is rather tentative. For instance, infant mortality has only recently been used as an indicator for absolute
deprivation on the cross-national level (Pridemore, 2008), having previously represented
concepts of social inequality (Lee & Bankston, 1999), health care (Shichor, 1990), and
social disorganization (Jacobs & Richardson, 2008). The following associations between
theories and predictors follow major arguments in the literature, with conceptual overlap to
be examined in the discussion.
4. One study included a Poverty Index (Par, 2006), but due to significant heterogeneity and a
lack of similar operationalizations, this effect size was excluded.
5. Gartners (1990, 1991) cultural predictor Battle Deaths had to be excluded due to her
use of nearly identical samples. Unfortunately, measures of American culture were
excluded because these studies did not employ standardized regression coefficients
(Chamlin & Cochran, 2007; Jensen, 2002) or did not have a large-enough sample size
(Cao, 2004). In addition, Chamlin and Cochrans (2006) study on perceptions of political legitimacy was excluded because they used negative binomial regression with metric coefficients.
6. This Q statistic is mathematically equivalent to the Q statistic used to examine the overall dispersion of effect sizes around the mean effect. However, the former is modified
to assess between-subgroup differences (Borenstein, Hedges, Higgins, & Rothstein,
2009).
x

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Bio
Amy E. Nivette is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Criminology at the University of
Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

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