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Who Kills Whom in Spouse Killings? On the Exceptional Sex Ratio of Spousal Homicides in the United States

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 30 Issue: 2 Dated: (May 1992) Pages: 189-215
M I Wilson; M Daly
Date Published
27 pages
Data on marital murders in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain were analyzed with respect to factors related to the ratio of men killing their wives to women killing their husbands.
Results revealed that for every 100 men who killed their wives in the United States during 1976-85, about 75 women killed their husbands. Women committed a substantially larger proportion of spousal homicides in the United States than elsewhere. In fact the spousal sex ratio of killing (SROK) is more than twice that in the other Western countries. However, this contrast cannot be attributed to greater gun use in the United States nor to a general behavioral and psychological convergence of males and females in the United States. Instead, significant predictors of the SROK include registered versus de facto marriage, co-residency versus separation, ethnicity, and age disparity. However, the impacts of these variables are not sufficient to explain the difference in the victim sex ratios in the United States and other countries. Tables and 94 references


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