Cultural Homogeneity

Unlike all other indicators on this website, Cultural Homogeneity is a concept that describes an immediate property of national societies. The other indicators of the cultural heritage result from aggregations of variables characterizing local groups. Definition: The concept measures the same dimension as cultural fractionalization, albeit in inverse terms: high homogeneity = low heterogeneity, and vice versa. It includes three indicators of homo-/heterogeneity, namely:

  1. The proportion of the largest language group More
  2. The proportion of the largest religious group More
  3. The proportion of the largest ethnic group More.

On a theoretical level, the dimension is highly relevant to explain differences in development. It appears that there is an interplay of cultural homogeneity and democracy: In principle, cultural heterogeneity (ethnic, language and/or religious) is conflictive, and conflicts have a negative effect on development. However, the gravity of such conflicts depends on the vitality of democratic institutions: the more democratic, the less cultural heterogeneity has negative effects upon development. In democratic societies, cultural heterogeneity can be a valuable resource.

The definition and measurement of the language, religious and ethnic groups is highly controversial. This is particularly true for the categorization of ethnic and even for religious groups Details (in German). However, empirical analysis indicates that strong and robust correlations persist between the three measurements of cultural heterogeneity – irrespective of the mode of operationalization Research. Therefore a more abstract aggregate index of cultural homogeneity is also constructed. The following analysis draws on the methodology of the ATLAS.