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Objective. This study examined institutional anomie theory in the context of transitional Russia.

Methods. We employed an index of negative socioeconomic change and measures of family, education, and polity to test the hypothesis that institutional strength conditions the effects of poverty and socioeconomic change on homicide rates.

Results. As expected, the results of models estimated using negative binomial regression show direct positive effects of poverty and socioeconomic change and direct negative effects of family strength and polity on regional homicide rates. There was no support, however, for the hypothesis that stronger social institutions reduce the effects of poverty and socioeconomic change on violence.

Conclusions. We interpret these results in the Russia-specific setting, concluding that Russia is a rich laboratory for examining the effects of social change on crime and that empirical research in other nations is important when assessing the generalizability of theories developed to explain crime and violence in the United States.