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Killing the Competition

Criminologists have known for decades that income inequality is the best predictor of the local homicide rate, but why this is so has eluded them. There is a simple, compelling answer: most homicides are the denouements of competitive interactions between men. Relatively speaking, where desired goods are distributed inequitably and competition for those goods is severe, dangerous tactics of competition are appealing and a high homicide rate is just one of many unfortunate consequences. Killing the Competition is about this relationship between economic inequality and lethal interpersonal violence. Suggesting that economic inequality is a cause of social problems and violence elicits fierce opposition from inequality's beneficiaries. Three main arguments have been presented by those who would acquit inequality of the charges against it: that "absolute" poverty is the real problem and inequality is just an incidental correlate; that "primitive" egalitarian societies have surprisingly high homicide rates, and that inequality and homicide rates do not change in synchrony and are therefore mutually irrelevant. With detailed but accessible data analyses and thorough reviews of relevant research, Martin Daly dispels all three arguments. Killing the Competition applies basic principles of behavioural biology to explain why killers are usually men, not women, and counters the view that attitudes and values prevailing in "cultures of violence" make change impossible.
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Table of Contents

Contents Preface 1 Why Homicide? 2 Homicide and Economic Inequality 3 Competition and Violence 4 Inequality, or Just Poverty? 5 Jockeying for Position 6 The Arena of Competition 7 Culture of Violence? 8 Lags and Lifetimes 9 Too Much Inequality 10 What Keeps Competitive Violence in Check? References Index

About the Author

Martin Daly is professor emeritus of psychology, neuroscience and behavior at McMaster University, Canada. He has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Human Behavior & Evolution Society.


"[A] thought-provoking and important book. It provides just the kind of careful and lively treatment one would expect from Daly, an accomplished evolutionary psychologist and a pioneer of applying Darwin's insights to criminal behaviour... I liked this book more than I wanted to, not least because Daly can really write, conveying complex ideas in easy-to-understand and evocative prose. He meticulously builds the already well-known but still often-resisted case that homicides, being largely male-on-male, are rooted in the fierce competition that almost all male mammals exhibit, primarily for mates... Daly also demolishes the prejudice... that men are homicidal maniacs who prey largely on helpless women. In truth, in every country with a non-negligible homicide rate, men kill men far more often than they kill women, by a worldwide factor of almost 4 to 1." - New Scientist

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