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Exploring Racial Variations in the Spousal Sex Ratio of Killing

NCJ Number
Violence and Victims Volume: 16 Issue: 6 Dated: December 2001 Pages: 591-606
Wendy C. Regoeczi
Date Published
December 2001
16 pages
This article focuses on spousal homicides and the differences in social situations of intimate partners according to race.
The hypotheses were that the type of marriage, the marital status of a couple, and a couple’s age disparity were explanations for the racial variation in spousal sex ratio of killing (SROK) in Canada; and that the homicide motive and interracial homicide patterns may also be implicated in the racial variation of spousal SROKs in Canada. The data used in this analysis were generated by the Canadian Center for Justice Statistics, Canada. These homicide data covered the years 1961 through 1983, and included 9,642 homicides. Results showed that during this time period, an average of 419 individuals were killed each year in Canada, and almost one-fifth of these deaths occurred between spouses. Breaking down the spousal homicide rate by race revealed that the female/male ratio of spousal homicides was substantially higher among Aboriginals than Blacks or whites. Factors that were found to help explain this pattern were the type of marriage (registered versus common-law), the marital status of the couple at the time of the killing (co-residing versus separated), and age differences between the husband and wife. A larger proportion of Aboriginal homicides than those involving Blacks or whites was found to involve common-law couples, which had higher spousal SROKs. A smaller proportion of spousal homicides involving Aboriginals was found to involve couples who were separated as opposed to co-residing, and fewer Aboriginal spousal killings were deemed by police to be jealousy-motivated. These two factors were associated with lower SROKs. When combined, these patterns suggested that both marital patterns and the nature of homicides among Aboriginals played a role in producing their higher SROK. Future research on racial differences in spousal homicides should more closely examine the nature of marriage, dating, and marital dissolution patterns for the different races in Canada. 5 tables, 11 notes, 34 references


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