Violent Acts and Violent Times: A Comparative Approach to Postwar Homicide Rates

The comparative crime data file utilized in this study was assembled over a three-year period. For the purposes of this study, postwar rather than wartime homicide rates were analyzed, since postwar data appear much less problematic and are likely to be affected by artifacts in only a conservative direction. The homicide data were analyzed to: (1) determine if postwar increases did occur and (2) identify which of seven competing theoretical models appeared to offer the most adequate explanation. The homicide rate changes after 50 nationwars were compared with the changes experienced by 30 control nations. The major finding of the study was that most of the nation-wars in the study did experience substantial postwar increases in their rates of homicide. These increases were pervasive, and occurred after large wars and smaller wars, with several types of homicide rate indicators, in victorious as well as defeated nations, in nations with both improved and worsened postwar economies, among both men and women offenders and among offenders of several age groups. Homicide rate increases occurred with particular consistency among nations with large numbers of combat deaths. Using homicide and other data, it was possible to disconfirm or demonstrate the insufficiency of six of the seven explanatory models.

Publication Date

December 1976

Publication Name

American Sociological Review


Dane Archer and Rosemary Gartner