Death Penalty: The Political Foundations of the Global Trend Toward Abolition

51 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2004 Last revised: 15 Jun 2010

See all articles by Eric Neumayer

Eric Neumayer

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: October 1, 2006

Abstract

The death penalty is like no other punishment. Its continued existence in many countries of the world creates political tensions within these countries and between governments of retentionist and abolitionist countries. After the Second World War, more and more countries have abolished the death penalty. This article argues that the major determinants of this global trend toward abolition are political, a claim which receives support in a quantitative cross-national analysis from 1950 to 2002. Democracy, democratization, international political pressure on retentionist countries and peer group effects in relatively abolitionist regions all raise the likelihood of abolition. There is also a partisan effect as abolition becomes more likely if the chief executive's party is left-wing oriented. Cultural, social and economic determinants receive only limited support. The global trend toward abolition will go on if democracy continues to spread around the world and abolitionist countries stand by their commitment to press for abolition all over the world.

Suggested Citation

Neumayer, Eric, Death Penalty: The Political Foundations of the Global Trend Toward Abolition (October 1, 2006). Human Rights Review, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 241-268, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=489628 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.489628

Eric Neumayer (Contact Author)

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) ( email )

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