Chart of the Day: An Example of American Exceptionalism

The following charge underscores how exceptional the United States is in this policy area is when compared to other democracies (note the countries the US finds itself neighbors with, so to speak).  Source:  The Economist.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    You should also check out prisoners per population:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_incarceration_rate

    Number 1, baby! By a freaking mile, too. Whoo!

    USA! USA! USA!

  2. bill says:

    wow, look at our new bff iran- wonder how many were raped women/homosexuals?
    you go …..

  3. al-Ameda says:

    @de stijl:

    Number 1, baby! By a freaking mile, too. Whoo!
    USA! USA! USA!

    I think I’ll celebrate this by eating 12 deep fried Twinkies, and I’ll wash it all down with a 48 oz Mountain Dew. For dessert? A half gallon of Haagen Daz ice cream of course.

  4. David in KC says:

    The United States, home of the free and kills less citizens than Yeman. The ads just write themselves.

  5. Trumwill says:

    Meh. I’m against the death penalty and have been for a long time, but I’ve never been a fan of the “Don’t eat lunch at the loser table” argument. Sometimes the nations at the cool table are wrong, and nations like Russia and China and Saudi Arabia are right.

    The death penalty is (largely) wrong because it’s (largely) unnecessary and too prone to error. We don’t need to look at the counties at the cool table and the loser table to tell us that, and these comparisons don’t seem very illuminating to me.

  6. An Interested Party says:

    wow, look at our new bff iran- wonder how many were raped women/homosexuals?

    Ahh, so unless we are going to war with another country, they are our bff…your ending is precious too…as if you care what happens to gay people…

  7. @Trumwill: I must confess, this strikes me as a rather fundamental human rights issue that cannot be so easily dismissed as something that can be described in terms of the cool table and the loser table.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    When considered on a per 100K basis the outliers are North Korea, Iran, and a country that doesn’t even appear: India. Despite having just about the same population as China, India carried out no executions last year.

    That’s a company I’d prefer we not be seen in but the message of the graphic may be that the two strongest predictors of likelihood to carry out executions are size of population and percentage of Muslims in the population.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Trumwill: Clocks and death sentences. Another among the many things I never thought to put in the same comment. Absolute genius.

  10. PD Shaw says:
  11. PJ says:

    @Trumwill:

    Sometimes the nations at the cool table are wrong, and nations like Russia and China and Saudi Arabia are right.

    Beyond what has already been pointed out, you do know that China only has one timezone? This despite that the width of the country is greater than the width of the lower 48 states? Not sure how one could argue that China is right when it comes to time… Should the US also only have one timezone?

  12. PJ says:

    On the actual subject, I would have preferred minimum estimated executions per capita rather than just minimum estimated executions. Taiwan and Japan have roughly the same number of people between 2010 and 2014, but Japan has a population more than five times the population of Taiwan. China has a population more than 17 times the population of China.

    Otherwise a 0 and 1 is enough, countries that haven’t executed someone in that year and countries that have. One should strive to be part of the first group.

  13. Trumwill says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I agree! But that’s the argument of the chart, in a nutshell, which is why I am not impressed by it.

  14. Tyrell says:

    I would like more data. Perhaps some numbers on murders by types: serial killers, kidnapping-murder, torture, murders occurring during robberies, murder for profit, contract murders, prison murders, gang murders, family murders, murders of passion, assassination type murders, and murders that had no apparent reason (killing spree).
    I would like to see more information about the crime picture in China. How many of their executions are of political nature ? It is also hard to believe that Russia is not on this list when you consider executions in the prison camps over there.
    It seems this chart brings more questions than information. If it was based on numbers per population, countries like Cuba and some Central and South American countries would be way up there: firing squads a daily fact of life.
    And how about all of the murderers in this country who are not executed ? Those who serve a few years, those released by some judge or jury, those who get off with a botched verdict or some legal technicality . How would those numbers stack up to other countries ?

  15. @Trumwill: I guess my point is this: we aren’t just talking about the cool table and the uncool table. We are are talking about a group of liberal democracies that we are not like on this variable and a group of often very brutal authoritarian regimes that we are like. This should give us pause for thought.

  16. Franklin says:

    @Trumwill: I’m going to mostly agree with Trumwill here. Although I’d add that the death penalty is also wrong because it doesn’t seem to be applied proportionally because white/black and rich/poor ‘candidates’, plus it’s more expensive than a life term.

    Despite these complaints, I’m guessing the United States is still well ahead in terms of how fair the trials are. (Certainly one can find egregious examples in the U.S., but most of the other countries don’t really have anything one could call a ‘trial’ at all.)

  17. ernieyeball says:

    Apparently the punishment for an alleged Judge, Jury and Executioner, if found guilty of murder in South Carolina Court is not death.
    I am so relieved.

    Earlier this week, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said Slager could face the death penalty if convicted on murder charges.
    CBS News researchers discovered in South Carolina, the death penalty may be imposed only if there is an aggravating circumstance — if, for instance, the victim was a child, or the murder happened during a robbery.
    It appears, in this case, the maximum penalty is life without parole.
    http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2015/04/sc-police-shooting-michael-slager-could.html

  18. C. Clavin says:

    Every life is precious. Or not.

  19. lounsbury says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    Really… Muslim card?

    Except of course Indonesia, all the 90%+ African Islamic countries (north and west Africa) ex-Egypt and Sudan…

    Right proper thinking there Dave, not in the least bit stupid.

    No, sorry, yes very stupid.

  20. An Interested Party says:

    Really… Muslim card?

    Except of course Indonesia, all the 90%+ African Islamic countries (north and west Africa) ex-Egypt and Sudan…

    This point bears repeating over and over and over again…the stereotype that Muslims are just Middle Eastern terrorists is ridiculous and certainly not true considering the millions of nonviolent Muslims all over the world…

  21. Dave Schuler says:

    @lounsbury:

    I’m sorry, lounsbury, but it’s a fact. Look at the graph above. When you consider the rate per 100K it’s even worse. Yes, Indonesia is another exception (India has a large Muslim population so, obviously, there are cultural issues beyond religion and population size).

    Rather than just being tedious, why not propose a better model?

    Let’s consider what a more predictive model might look like. We can get more selective than just Muslim and consider only certain beliefs within Islam. The U. S. states with the highest rate of capital punishment per 100K have large fundamentalist Christian populations. So, how about suggesting that countries with large percentages of fundamentalist Muslims or Christians are more predisposed to capital punishment? That would explain KSA, Yemen, U. S., other Gulf States.

    I honestly don’t think that religious belief can be completely dismissed from consideration. Maybe you do.

  22. lounsbury says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    No Dave, I am sorry for your lack of proper statistical thinking skills and just plain myopic idiocy here.

    It is not a “fact.” It is your impoverished understanding of Muslim population distribution and cognitive biases.

    With a majority of Muslim population and indeed Muslim majority countries *not* appearing in this list (we can add Central Asia to Africa ex-Egypt and Sudan) one does not have a real and proper correlation with “Muslims qua Muslim” majority population as a driver.

    Any more than an analysis of equally fallacious folk-statistical theorizing would around driving a correlation between Anglophone Protestantism and Death Penalty – given the enormous weighting of the USA in that population selection.

    Rather than just being tedious, why not propose a better model?

    Better model? Well that would require a proper data set and proper reflection, not eyeballing a chart and willy-nilly hand-waving away fundamental population facts.

    If one were to eyeball that chart and get beyond the incredibly ill-informed ‘Muslim majority correlation’ (entirely fiction against the population weighting of Muslim majority countries not appearing there), one might look at a geographical correlation to Middle East and Arab-Persian fault zone (not that I find that particularly credible as such as a correlation with possible causation, but it is at least a real correlation) or to Middle East proper (Levant plus Gulf and the two Africa states heavily Gulf influenced) correlation with perhaps a potential Weak State add-on. Or a potential correlation with some potential for causation relative to geographic association / proximity to Wahhabite / Salafist Islamist politics (Gulf again really).

    Those items may have some real factors, particularly since they don’t hand wave away the massive non-fit-to-hypothesis populations.

    Let’s consider what a more predictive model might look like. We can get more selective than just Muslim and consider only certain beliefs within Islam. The U. S. states with the highest rate of capital punishment per 100K have large fundamentalist Christian populations. So, how about suggesting that countries with large percentages of fundamentalist Muslims or Christians are more predisposed to capital punishment? That would explain KSA, Yemen, U. S., other Gulf States.

    It is not merely ‘fundamentalist’ if you wish to go with this, it is a particular brand.

    Possible, yes, and then you have something that is not merely hand-waving away the massive non-fit.

    I honestly don’t think that religious belief can be completely dismissed from consideration. Maybe you do.

    No, I do not, but I do know that just like the dead-end over-generalization in late 19c-early 20c sociology about fundamental Protestant-Catholic differences, taking large and diverse populations with rather varied belief systems (here, “Muslims”) is a route to profound analytical error and erroneous conclusions.

    Your original comment remains profoundly stupid, on the order of someone pretending to make such a sweeping hypothesis cum observation about “Anglophone Protestants” rather than US southern protestants (or whatever).