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Manuel Eisner


Manuel Eisner photoManuel Eisner is Professor of Comparative and Developmental Criminology at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. He is also the director of its Violence Research Centre. From 1993 to 2001 he was assistant professor at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. He is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Criminology and was recipient of the 2011 Sellin Glueck Award by the American Society of Criminology. Currently he serves as a member of the US National Academy of Sciences Roundtable on “Understanding Crime Trends”.

Manuel is a historian and sociologist by training and works on the history of violence in Europe, especially the long-term change in levels of homicide and its explanation. As part of his interest in macro-level patterns of violence he has also worked with Amy Nivette on the link between state legitimacy and homicide cross-nationally. 

He is the principal investigator (with Denis Ribeaud) of the Zurich Study on the Social Development of Children, an ongoing longitudinal study of 1400 children born in 1997/8. Work emerging from this study has examined, amongst others, the link between trustworthiness and aggression, the effects of early childcare on externalizing behavior, and the development of sex differences in aggression. He is also co-author of an epidemiological study on adolescent sexual victimization in Switzerland.

Manuel has conducted two randomized field-trials on the effectiveness of prevention programmes and takes an interest in the methodological quality of reporting on trial outcomes.

He is active in promoting evidence-based violence prevention in Switzerland, the UK, Europe, and internationally. Amongst others, a recent self-report study on youth violence in Uruguay will help to inform the government about more effective strategies. His work been supported, amongst others, by the Jacobs Foundation, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the European Science Foundation, the Optimus Foundation and the Nuffield Foundation. 



Reducing Homicide by 50% in 30 years – Universal Mechanisms and Evidence-Based Public Policy

Homicide is probably the only type of violence where the quality of indicators is good enough to define targets and to monitor progress at a global, national and regional level. Evidence from many places in the world suggests that reductions by about 2.5% per year – needed for a 50% drop in 30 years - are feasible and realistic. A public policy framework for achieving such a goal needs to overcome the traditional cleavage between the more micro-level evidence typically produced by randomized trials and the macro-level evidence of what drives population-level differences. I will suggest three universal mechanisms that have been involved in any major homicide decline and that can guide policies aimed at reducing homicide: Better governance and the rule of law; the promotion of self-control and discipline; and cultural change towards higher civility. These stipulated universal mechanisms must be translated into actual prevention strategies.

Download the Policy Idea Papers of the Plenary Lectures 

plenary booklet