There's a commonly held belief that the presence of women and the prevalence of violent crime are inversely related (that is to say, more women means fewer crimes). Unfortunately, that might not be so. A recent study has shown that men may actually be less inclined to commit violent crimes in areas where there are more men in the population than women.
This shocking revelation comes courtesy of the psychology-oriented publication, Human Nature. The journal explores the underlying forces — social, biological and otherwise — that cause us to behave the way we do.
The researchers' goal was to either confirm or debunk the notion that violence increases in areas where there are more men than women. The logic supporting this widespread theory is that young, single men act aggressively, so wherever there are lots of them, you can expect higher levels of violent crime.
To gather information on crime rates, the team consulted FBI records for every single county. The types of crimes they were looking for were the violent ones: assaults, rapes and murders, among others.
The findings go against the idea that a surplus of men leads to more violent crime. In the paper, the results of the investigation are described as such: “We find rates of homicide, aggravated assault, rape, sex offenses, and prostitution/commercial vice to be more common in counties with more women than men...” Social scientists have to maintain impartiality, of course, but there's no way these authors weren't surprised by their conclusions.
Mating market theory was employed by the researchers to explain the results of their study. The theory suggests that men at large only engage in behaviors that result (directly or indirectly) in a mating advantage. So, in some way, violent crime is either helping or, at the very least, not hurting the ability of men to find sexual partners.
So why is there an observable increase in violence committed by men in counties with more women? The researchers posit that the availability of potential mates causes competition between men, which can lead to elevated rates of violent crime.
The authors of the study also addressed the way lawmakers should take this new information. The incarceration rate in the United States is creating communities where women heavily outnumber men, an environment that we now know can engender violence. This knowledge makes it clear that efforts to keep men out of prison could be a very promising approach to solving the problem of violent crime in America.