The Relationship Between the Historical Legacy of Slavery and Modern-Day Violence

Citation:

Claire Boine and Michael Siegel. 2019. “The Relationship Between the Historical Legacy of Slavery and Modern-Day Violence.” In Criminology in the New Era: Confronting Injustice and Inequalities. San Francisco: American Society of Criminology. Date Presented: 13 November 2019. Publisher's Version

Abstract:

We examined the impact of the historical legacy of slavery on modern-day homicide rates at the state level. Using state-level data from 1991 to 2016, we conducted a fixed effects regression analysis of homicide rates in order to identify the unexplained variations in fatal violence across states. The independent variables included demographic variables, gun culture variables, non-homicide crime rates, gender inequality and social capital. We then used the residuals as the dependent variable in a second regression, whose independent variable was the number of slaves in each state in 1860. We found a statistically significant positive correlation between the past number of slaves in each state and the unexplained variations in homicide rates today. In fact, slavery explained 43% of these variations. In order to rule out the possibility that this result was simply reflecting a “Southern culture of violence”, we repeated the analysis excluding all non-slavery states. Even among slavery states only, the strong positive correlation between the actual number of slaves and the unexplained state variations in homicide rates remained significant (p < 0.0001). The results suggest that the historical legacy of slavery continues to influence state-specific levels of fatal violence.
Last updated on 07/10/2020