More Men=More Violence?

My recent research explores the patterning of violence by sex ratio. In a recent review paper we show that intuitive arguments such as “more men=more violence” are, at best, overly simplistic (Schacht et al., 2014) . By using data from ethnographers we find a general trend of increasing monogamy and household stability when men are in abundance – quite counter to popular concerns of potential societal instability due to extra males (e.g. China & India).

Additionally we find that not all violence is positively or negatively associated with the sex ratio – the prevalence of a particular act varies by context. In general, sexual assault rates are highest when women are in abundance. However, rates of domestic abuse and female homicide victimization are elevated when women are in demand. While the causal explanation is unclear, what is clear is that the area in undertheorized. One of my current research directions is exploring the relationship between the sex ratio and violence against women cross-culturally, being careful to disaggregate measures of violence to aid in our understanding of the patterning of behavior.