Institute of Public Administration, Faculty of Governance and Global
Affairs, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
Dimiter Toshkov is Associate Professor of Public Administration at Leiden
University. His current research interests are in the fields of European Union
politics, comparative public policy, and research methodology. His work has been
published in Political Analysis, European Union Politics, Public
Administration , and other academic journals. His latest book on research
design in Political Science has been published in 2016 by Palgrave Macmillan.
In a recent article Sylwia Piatkowska, Steven Messner and Lawrence Raffalovich (PMR)
(2016) argue that ‘entry into the EU is positively associated with levels of homicide in
the 10 Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007’ (pp. 151, 158),
with the implication that accession to the European Union (EU) caused higher homicide rate in the countries that joined the union. In this note, I challenge
this conclusion and argue that the available empirical evidence does not support the
inference that accession to the EU increased the homicide rate. The positive effect that
PMR (2016) report is a result of a statistical model specification based on a number of
unwarranted assumptions and data preprocessing decisions. The statistical result cannot be
replicated under a broad range of alternative, and more plausible, assumptions nor with
different measures. Furthermore, the result is in clear contradiction with the descriptive
patterns of the evolution of the homicide rates in central and eastern Europe; it does not
rest on plausible causal mechanisms; and it does not have a clear causal interpretation.
In summary, accession to the EU is not related to higher homicide rates, neither in
descriptive nor in causal terms.