Making Sense of Maps–violence and grain

So I was looking at this map, trying to figure out what might be causing different rates of violence:

No data for non-EU countries like Norway and Russia
No data for non-EU countries like Norway and Russia

Clearly it’s not degree of Germaness, as the Germans have less (reported) violence than their cousins in France, the UK, and Denmark. Doesn’t look like a Hajnal line effect, as France is solidly inside the line and Greece isn’t. Doesn’t look like latititude, is Ireland and Denmark and Latvia are all around the same latitude. Probably not an immigration thing, as it’s a stretch to blame violence against half of Denmark’s women on whatever relatively small % of the population is immigrants, while Spain and Italy (which I’m sure also have immigrants) are down in the 20%s.

Then I thought, aside from Ireland, it does look rather like a map of when grain arrived in Europe. Maybe the violence is fueled by alcohol, and groups that have been exposed to alcohol for longer are more resistant to its effects. (And Ireland, btw, does not have as much of an alcohol problem as is generally claimed.)

So here is a map of the spread of wheat in Europe:

Poor Finland got left off the map
From Science News: Wheat Reached England before Farming

Since grain originated (as far as Europe is concerned) in Turkey, I suspect that it became a dominant dietary staple faster after introduction in Spain, whose climate is probably similar to Turkey, than in more northerly places like Scotland or Finland. Ireland does not appear to lag significantly behind England, but northern Scotland does. Sadly, this map does not show us the Baltic and Scandinavia, where I gather the hunter-gatherer-fisher-herder lifestyle held on much longer.

Here is another map, of alcohol-related deaths:



This map sheds some light on why the UK comes out with more violence than Ireland: the Scottish. The English look pretty okay overall, but the Scots apparently get drunk and beat their wives with the vigor of, well, I guess the French.

I’d really like to see more complete versions of these maps, but oh, well. (Though I’m glad they left off Russia, which I suspect would change the scale on the graph, compressing the rest of the data into uselessness.)

Here are my suspicions: Grain (particularly wheat) started out over in Turkey and spread to Greece, Italy, Spain, the south-Slavic regions, southern French coast, and Germany, in about that order. These areas all seem to have low rates of domestic violence and, except for the Slavs, low rates of alcohol-fueled death. Perhaps the stats on that reflect differences in density or drunk driving laws, or the later admixture of another population like the Magyars that has less alcohol tolerance. East Germany clearly stands out as an anomaly that is probably due to the Cold War.

Wheat farming reached northern Europe later, reaching Scotland, Denmark, the Baltic, and Scandinavia last. Lower rates of alcohol-related death in some of these spots probably reflect people driving drunk less often due to local factors.

According to “investoralist”, in “The geo-alcohol belts of Europe,” “Episodic drunkenness seems embedded in the Nordic culture, so much so that most Scandinavian states have outrageously high alcohol taxes to discourage binge-drinking.  In a country where alcohol is the most common cause of death among working-aged adults, Finland raised its alcohol taxes twice in the 2008-2009 period.”

He further quotes, “[W]hen Finns drink, they drink heavily. The important thing is that I believe that they are not only drinking away their cultural neurosis; they actually value the cathartic effect of Dionysian drinking. This leads to a situation where, as I have put it, you can’t single out the alcoholics at our parties because everyone is as dead-drunk as alcoholics. This leads to a cultural tradition where drunkenness is positively valued among rather large segments of the population. Therefore, there exists no cultural consensus regarding the positive effects of moderation.”

According to the Wikipedia article on binge drinking, Denmark has the most binge drinkers.

Oh look:

Is this a map of where Scandinavians (and Germans) settled in the US?
Is this a map of where Scandinavians (and Germans) settled in the US?

Your thoughts?