Skip to main content

Shelf Help: ‘Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide’

We’ve long known that areas where inequality is highest have the worst homicide rates. Martin Daly makes the case that this relationship is one of causation, not correlation.

By Peter C. Baker


Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide. (Photo: Transaction Publishers)

Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide
Martin Daly 
Transaction Publishers

Areas where income inequality is highest also tend to have the highest homicide rates: This has long been recognized among academics, if not the general public. In his newest book, influential Canadian psychologist Martin Daly surveys the impressive array of statistics that prove this correlation — and then goes a step further, arguing that inequitable resource distribution actually causes interpersonal violence. Human males, Daly claims, evolved to be acutely sensitive to relative disparities — and willing to stage violent confrontations to ensure their rank. But this hardly means, for Daly, that humans are genetically doomed to violence. When inequality is reduced, physical confrontation should become less worthwhile and homicides decrease. This book is required reading for anyone open to looking anew at the stubborn question of why we keep killing each other.