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

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  • Pauline Grosjean

    ()
    (School of Economics, The University of New South Wales)

Abstract

According to the culture of honor hypothesis, the high prevalence of homicide in the US South originates from the settlement of the region by herders from the fringes of Britain in the late 18th century. Combining contemporary homicide data with historical Census data, this paper confirms that Scot or Scots-Irish settlements are associated with higher homicide today, but only in the South. Using different proxies for institutional quality, I find that the Scots-Irish culture of honor only persisted where institutional quality was low. The interpretation is that the culture of honor, a private justice system, persisted in the South as an adaptive behavior to weak institutions. The effect is more pronounced where herding was more prevalent. It is confined to white offenders and to specific homicides that seem to aim at the defense of one’s reputation. By contrast, the culture of honor deters violent crime against women. The culture of honor was transmitted to subsequent generations, but, again, only where formal institutions were weak. Evidence also suggests that the Scots-Irish culture of honor continues to adapt: it has been slowly fading over time.

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File URL: http://research.economics.unsw.edu.au/RePEc/papers/2011-13.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School of Economics, The University of New South Wales in its series Discussion Papers with number 2011-13.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:swe:wpaper:2011-13

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Related research

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

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References

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  1. Esther Hauk & Maria Sáez, 1999. "On the cultural transmission of corruption," Economics Working Papers 392, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Peter T. Leeson, 2009. "The Laws of Lawlessness," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 471-503, 06.
  3. Grosjean, Pauline, 2011. "The institutional legacy of the Ottoman Empire: Islamic rule and financial development in South Eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-16, March.
  4. Matthew Gentzkow & Edward L. Glaeser & Claudia Goldin, 2006. "The Rise of the Fourth Estate. How Newspapers Became Informative and Why It Mattered," NBER Chapters, in: Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History, pages 187-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen & Nick Bloom, 2008. "Measuring And Explaining Decentralization Across Firms And Countries," 2008 Meeting Papers 246, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Daniel Berkowitz & Karen Clay, 2006. "The Effect of Judicial Independence on Courts: Evidence from the American States," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 399-440, 06.
  7. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  8. Francisco M. Gonzalez, 2011. "The Use of Coercion in Society: Insecure Property Rights, Conflict and Economic Backwardness," Working Papers 2010-15, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 09 Sep 2011.
  9. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402 Elsevier.
  2. Luigi Guiso & Helios Herrera & Massimo Morelli, 2013. "A Cultural Clash View of the EU Crisis," EIEF Working Papers Series 1321, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Jul 2013.
  3. Nico Voigtlaender & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2011. "Persecution Perpetuated: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Violence in Nazi Germany," NBER Working Papers 17113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Mathieu Couttenier & Marc Sangnier, 2010. "Living in the garden of Eden: Mineral resources foster individualism," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564920, HAL.
  5. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "Long Term Persistence," EIEF Working Papers Series 0810, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Aug 2008.
  6. Grosfeld, Irena & Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 2013. "Persistent effects of empires: Evidence from the partitions of Poland," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1311, CEPREMAP.
  7. repec:cge:warwcg:137 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Alessandra Cassar & Giovanna d'Adda & Pauline Grosjean, 2013. "Institutional Quality, Culture, and Norms of Cooperation: Evidence from a Behavioral Field Experiment," Discussion Papers 2013-10, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  9. Nathan Nunn, 2012. "Culture and the Historical Process," NBER Working Papers 17869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00795231 is not listed on IDEAS

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