A History of Violence: Testing the ‘Culture of Honor’ in the US South
Using historical data on early settlers to the United States, this paper tests and confirms the “Culture of Honor” hypothesis by socio-psychologists Dov Cohen and Richard Nisbett (1994, 1996). This hypothesis argues that the high prevalence of homicides in the US South stems from the fact that it was a frontier region settled by people whose economy was based on herding: the Scotch-Irish. Herding societies develop cultures of honors for reasons having to do with their precariousness: violence is a necessary condition to preserve a reputation for toughness and deter animal theft. Using historical census data on waves of settlers from Europe and relating contemporaneous violence to early Scotch-Irish settlers, this paper provides a test of the link between Scotch-Irish settlers and the culture of honor. The results confirm that high numbers of Scotch-Irish immigrants to the US South by 1790 are associated with higher homicide rates today, including homicides by white offenders. Similar results do not hold for different origins of migrants or other violent crime or offenses. The effect is stronger in counties with high headcounts of pigs and sheep in the 19th century, confirming the herding origin of the culture of honor. An important contribution of this paper is to suggests an instrument for violence, based on past economic occupations and ecological suitability for herding vs. farming.
|Date of creation:||May 2010|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Corso Magenta, 63 - 20123 Milan|
Web page: http://www.feem.it/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Fernández, Raquel & Fogli, Alessandra, 2005.
"Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work and Fertility,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
5089, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-77, January.
- Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2005. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," Working Papers 05-07, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
- Raquel Fernandez & Alessandra Fogli, 2005. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," NBER Working Papers 11268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Raquel Fernandez & Alessandra Fogli, 2005. "Culture: an empirical investigation of beliefs, work, and fertility," Staff Report 361, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1997.
"The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences,"
DELTA Working Papers
97-03, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
- Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2001. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 298-319, April.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2010.51. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (barbara racah)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.