Revisiting Imbalance: An Expansion of Institutional Anomie Theory and Violent Crime Rates

Document Type


Publication Date

September 2015


Georgia Southern University Institutional Anomie Theory (IAT) posits that the imbalance between societal institutions leads to crime. Specifically, higher imbalances lead to higher rates of crimes while the type of imbalance the country experiences is related to certain categories of crime. While institutional anomie theory has received moderate empirical support in the past, particularly regarding the relationship between economic indicators and rates of violence, studies have not paid careful attention to measuring the imbalance between the economy and other social institutions outlined by Messner and Rosenfeld such as the family, school, and government. This study expands on previous institutional anomie theory research by including several macro-level measures of institutional imbalance that include multiple institutions within a society, including but not limited to the economy, family, school, polity, and health, across dozens of diverse nations around the globe. Implications of the findings will be discussed regarding both the continued study of crime from an institutional anomie perspective as well as future directions on the measurement of the key variables within the theory.


European Society of Criminology

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