Human Rights: Why Countries Differ

in Comparative Sociology
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Abstract

Countries differ with respect to human rights. Using the cross-country ciri data (Cingranelli & Richards), the authors tested two theories. The cognitive-moral enlightenment theory going back to Piaget and Socrates postulates that individuals and nations with higher levels of cognitive ability think and behave in a way more conducive to human rights. The culture-religion theory going back to Weber, Sombart and Voltaire postulates that different religious beliefs shape attitudes, and propel societies toward institutions that are more or less supportive of human rights. Cognitive ability had a positive impact on human rights but its effect varied depending on the country sample. More important was religion, both in cross-sectional and longitudinal models. Percentage of Christians had a positive impact (r = .62, total effect β = .63), percentage of Muslims had a negative one (r = −.57, total effect β = −.59). Political institutions are highly correlated with human rights, but religion is the decisive background factor.

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Figures
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    Path analysis with only religion and cognitive ability for explaining cross-country differences in human rights (standardized path coefficients, correlations in parentheses, fiml, error term as unexplained variance, saturated model), N = 191 nations.
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    Path analysis including intervening variables for explaining cross-country differences in human rights (cfi = .98, srmr = .05), N = 191 nations.
  • View in gallery
    Path analysis for explaining cross-country differences in human rights including evolution (cfi = .99, srmr = .04), N = 191 nations.
  • View in gallery
    Path analysis for explaining cross-country differences in human rights with rule of law (cfi = .97, srmr = .07), N = 191 nations.
  • View in gallery
    Path analysis for explaining cross-country differences in human rights with percentage of Muslims (cfi = .97, srmr = .06), N = 191 nations.
  • View in gallery
    Path analysis for explaining cross-country differences in women’s rights with consanguinity (cfi = .97, srmr = .04), N = 74 nations with data on consanguinity.
  • View in gallery
    Longitudinal analysis showing cross-lagged effects with percentage of Christians, cognitive ability (student assessment studies sas) and human rights (standardized path coefficients, correlations in parentheses, error term as unexplained variance, saturated model), N = 51 nations with information for all variables.
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