October, 2016

Male Violence and Crime Elevated Where There are More Females

A recent study examined crime rate data and Census data from 3082 American counties with a “mating market theory” to generate predictions of criminal and anti-social behavior as a response to partner availability.  The results, the authors suggested, were counter-intuitive in that the findings showed that in counties where females outnumbered males, there were greater rates of homicide, aggravated assault, sex-offenses, rape and prostitution, than were found in counties with a greater number of males.

The study asked: “Given a greater male propensity for violent behavior, why has the sex ratio not emerged as an important predictor of behavior?”  Conventional wisdom would hold, the study suggests, that female rarity would cause an elevation in male-violence.  Instead, the study found that “when males are relatively rare they are more likely to engage in direct, violent competition.”  Additionally, sexually-transmitted disease rates were lower in male-biased populations, but a greater rate of domestic abuse, due to “greater male mate-guarding behaviors,” was predicted in male-biased populations.

The authors raised concerns about current “tough on crime” policies in “highly-policed areas of the United States” because the high rates of male incarceration likely “only exacerbate the very types of criminal and violent behavior they are attempting to alleviate.”

Sources:  Andy Coghlan, “Men are more violent when there are more women around,” newscientist.com, October 3, 2016: https://www.new scientist.com/article/2107806-men-are-more-violent-when-there-are-more-women-around/.  Ryan Schach t, Douglas Tharp, Ken R. Smith, “Marriage Markets and Male Mating Effort: Violence and Crime Are Elevated Where Men Are Rare,” http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/173/art%253A10.1007%252Fs12110-016-9271-x.pdf?originUrl=http%3A%2F%2 Flink.springer.com%2Farticle%2F10.1007%2Fs12110-016-9271-x&token2=exp=1476125647~acl=%2Fstat ic%2Fpdf%2F173%2Fart%25253A10.1007%25252Fs12110-016-9271-x.pdf%3ForiginUrl%3Dhttp%253A% 252F%252Flink.springer.com%252Farticle%252F10.1007%252Fs12110-016-9271-x*~hmac=acfab3dfb170 ba5c7b9a915452fc6b62fdfab51c5e6ea1c2fe48fc826d0d5ee4

by Neil Leithauser
Associate Editor