Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Smart countries have less homicide

Using Richard Lynn's data on national IQ and WHO data on male homicide victimization, I calculated a correlation of -.46 across 30 countries. The scatterplot is shown above. Argentina, Uruguay, and especially the United States are well above the regression line. Black Americans might raise homicide levels more than they lower average IQ, but murder rates among white Americans are higher than expected. This has been attributed to any number of things: frontier cultures that became violent due to a non-existent or ineffective criminal justice system (i.e., the Scots-Irish and the Wild West); immigration selecting for restlessness; and handy guns, which embolden criminals and turn a fight into a murder.


  1. Just from these 3 data points, I'd guess that America, Argentina, and Uruguay share a left-over frontier culture of honor. Among white Americans, murder rates are high in old cattle ranching states like Texas and Oklahoma, which topographically are pretty similar to Argentina and Uruguay.

    I believe that herdsmen tend to be more casually violent than farmers, and we may be seeing this reflected here in modern urbanized cultures.

  2. Anonymous11:23 AM

    I had heard that among whites the most violent are those who live in the southeast but NOT by the coast or flat terrain. Midwestern farmers with otherwise the same social statistics as southeastern whites are considerably less violent.

    The historical Old West was apparently LESS violent than the east, and there weren't many (free) blacks or Hispanics in eastern cities at that time to try to control for. See here which links to The Not So Wild West.

  3. "whites" in the US include hispanics. As I understood it the murder rate of white-non hispanics is about 2-3 per 100.000 (male and female), about European levels.

  4. Anonymous9:54 PM

    "Black Americans might raise homicide levels more than they lower average IQ"

    You could control for this by using IQ and homicide data from states with few blacks, like Vermont.


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