Measuring Cross-National Convergence/Divergence of Homicide Victimization Rates for Males and Females, 1956 to 2000

Gwen C. Hunicutt, Univ. of North Carolina at Greensboro
Gary LaFree, University of Maryland at College Park

Since the 1970s, a large body of literature has speculated on whether female and male crimes rates are converging over time. While most of this research has been applied to male and female offending rates in the United States, in this paper we instead examine evidence for convergence in homicide victimization rates for women and men in a sample of nations. A gender equality thesis argues that gradual changes in women's social position should result in broad convergence between women and men in many areas, including criminal victimization. By contrast, a gender backlash argument suggests that female victimization rates may have actually further diverged from male rates as a result of the increasing friction caused by changes in social roles for men and women in the second half of the twentieth century. We contrast both of these views against a null hypothesis of little change in homicide victimization rates of women vis a vis men over time. We use econometric methods to test for convergence and divergence in male and female homicide victimization rates for 35 nations from 1956 to 2000. One results show weak support for both the gender equality and the gender backlast perspectives. We consider the implications of the results for theory and future research.

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Updated 05/20/2006