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Social Structure and Homicide in Post-Soviet Russia

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285 pages
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This study used recently available demographic, economic, mortality, and crime data to describe the temporal, demographic, and spatial variation of homicide rates among the 89 Russian regions; further, structural models developed to fit patterns of homicide in the United States were estimated with these data to assess the cross-sectional effects of social structural characteristics on the variation of homicide rates within Russia compared to similar U.S. studies.
Descriptive analyses display a steep decline in the homicide victimization rate in Russia in the mid-1980's, followed by a period during the late 1980's and early 1990's when the homicide rate more than tripled. Both homicide victims and offenders in Russia tended to be much older than their American counterparts. Multivariate analyses indicated that poverty and other elements of social disorganization, such as ethnic heterogeneity and single-parent households, were positively and significantly associated with the variation in homicide victimization rates; levels of alcohol consumption were also positively related to homicide rates; and the lower-than-average homicide rates in the Northern Caucasus regions and the higher-than-average rates in the regions east of the Ural mountains could not be explained solely by their structural features. Finally, in spite of significantly differing cultures, histories, and contemporary experiences, a comparison of the Russian results with those from comparable studies in the United States yielded similar patterns in the relationships between structural characteristics and homicide rates. This indicates that social structure plays an important role in the variation of homicide rates within nations, despite any cultural and historical differences that might exist among them. 16 tables, 22 figures, 244 references, and appended supplementary materials

Date Published: January 1, 2000