U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Predicting Abolition: A Cross-National Survival Analysis of the Social and Political Determinants of Death Penalty Statutes

NCJ Number
International Criminal Justice Review Volume: 20 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2010 Pages: 56-72
Stephanie L. Kent
Date Published
March 2010
17 pages
This study examined ethnic and economic divisions based on conflict theory to determine their effect on existence and use of the death penalty in 92 nations.
Cross-national research on the determinants of criminal penalties has generally recognized that the amount of crime is an insufficient explanation for the use of punishment. Some research supports conflict explanations, reporting that economic inequality and the presence of ethnic minorities threatens elites who respond by advocating increased punishments largely aimed at minority groups. Other research reports that democratized nations in which citizens enjoy many civil liberties have lower levels of punishment. This study uses event history and logistic analyses to identify the social and political factors that shape the existence of the death penalty in 92 nations over a 23-year period. The results largely support conflict explanations for the existence of this punishment by finding that nations with high-income inequality and large ethnic minority populations have the lowest likelihood of abolition. Tables, notes, and references (Published Abstract)