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It has frequently been suggested that a high degree of social heterogeneity is conducive to a high rate of crime. This paper explores that hypothesis by providing an explicit statistical test of the relationship between a society's homicide rate and various measures of the ethnic, linguistic, religious, and economic heterogeneity of that society's population, using nationstates as units of observation. The results lend support to the theory that the interaction within a society of heterogeneous cultural groups tends to increase the rate of homicide. The empirical analysis controls for the effect on homicide rates of the age structure of the population, per capita GNP, urbanization, and population density; the results suggest that the first two of these factors are also important in explaining variations in homicide rates.

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