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A History of Violence: The Culture of Honor as a Determinant of Homicide in the US South

Pauline A. Grosjean

UNSW Business School, School of Economics

August 25, 2011

According to the culture of honor hypothesis, the high prevalence of homicides in the US South originates from the settlement of the region by herders from the fringes of Britain. This paper confirms that Scot or Scots-Irish settlements are associated with higher homicide today, but only in the South. The effect is confined to white offenders and more pronounced where herding was more prevalent and institutional quality lower. Results indicate that other white settlers adopted the Scots-Irish culture. The interpretation is that the culture of honor persisted in the South as an adaptive behavior to economic vulnerability and weak institutions. Evidence also suggests that the Scots-Irish culture of honor continues to adapt: it is slowly depreciating over time. A positive effect of the culture of honor is to deter violent crime against women.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 44

Keywords: Cultural Persistence, Homicide, Institutions, Migration, Scots-Irish, US South

JEL Classification: K42, N31, O15, Z13

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Date posted: August 27, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Grosjean, Pauline A., A History of Violence: The Culture of Honor as a Determinant of Homicide in the US South (August 25, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1917113 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1917113

Contact Information

Pauline A. Grosjean (Contact Author)
UNSW Business School, School of Economics ( email )
High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052

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