Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Scots Irish

I read Born Fighting recently. I didn't post about it right away, because I wanted to think about a question I had. The Scots-Irish were intensely violent not that long ago. They are still one of the more violent white ethnic groups, but their rate has gone down, and other groups are now much more violent. What led to the decline, and are there lessons we can apply elsewhere?

I haven't found out yet if this has been studied, or if we just have the usual "jobs and education" claims without evidence of causality. Olmstead's book suggests that neither was an attractive option.

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Putnam's research about increased violence, both intra- and intergroup, when they live near another group may be a partial explanation. It would make sense that increased danger would cause young males to be more activated in general. There is supposedly a genetic factor recently uncovered that makes violent adulthood more likely if a child is treated violently. Violence may activate some tendencies rather than actually cause them, as it does not cause them (or more likely, not as often) in others.

The Scots-Irish who settled the Merrimack Valley in New England did not have an especial reputation for violence. Apparently one can detect increased violence in retrospect, but few if any remarked on it at the time. They settled among Puritans. That's not a group likely to overstimulate the young men. On the frontier there were not only natives, but competition for resources among the arrivees.