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Understanding Crime in Colombia and What Can Be Done About It

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  • Levitt Steven

    ()

  • Mauricio Rubio

Abstract

Abstract. We attempt to spell out the causes and costs of Colombia´s crime situation. Homicide rates are the highest in the world, three times higher than those of Brazil & Mexico and ten times higher than those of other Latin American countries. Paradoxically, Colombia is not exceptional with relation to property crime. In recent years, homicide rates have dropped in some of the most violent regions. Our conclusion is that drug trafficking coupled with low levels of punishment to criminals are the most important contributors to Colombian exceptional homicide rates. In relation to guerrillas, we find that their activities explain the high rates of kidnapping (and, in particular, its recent upsurge), but they are little related to the evolution of homicide rates. Socioeconomic factors, such as, income inequality and poverty, and sociological factors, such as the notion that Colombians are more violent by nature, do not appear to be the central explanation of crime rates in this country. Accordingly, our main policy recommendations are as follows: more and better information is required, lessening corruption in the criminal justice system is paramount, independent units for fighting kidnapping and homicides are needed, and financing the guerrillas so that they stop kidnapping should be explored. Most of our recommendations are related to the Colombian criminal justice system, the Plan Colombia and the drug policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by FEDESARROLLO in its series WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO with number 003735.

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Length: 42
Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:col:000123:003735

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Related research

Keywords: Violencia; Crimen; Economía Institucional; Reformas Institucionales;

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References

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  1. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-90, June.
  2. Steven D. Levitt & Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, 2000. "An Economic Analysis Of A Drug-Selling Gang'S Finances," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 755-789, August.
  3. Kessler, Daniel P & Levitt, Steven D, 1999. "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 343-63, April.
  4. Steiner, Roberto, 1998. "Colombia's income from the drug trade," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1013-1031, June.
  5. Soares, Rodrigo R., 2004. "Development, crime and punishment: accounting for the international differences in crime rates," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 155-184, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Mamadou Camara & Pierre Salama, 2004. "Homicidios en América del Sur: ¿los pobres son peligrosos?," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 6(10), pages 159-181, January-J.
  2. Carlos Vargas-Silva, 2009. "Crime and Remittance Transfers," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 35(2), pages 232-247.
  3. Bernardo Pérez Salazar, 2007. "De héroes anónimos, sabiduría convencional y fraudes infames," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 9(16), pages 343-349, January-J.
  4. Ricardo Bonilla González & Jorge Iván González, 2006. "Bien-estar y macroeconomía 2002-2006: el crecimiento inequitativo no es sostenible," PUBLICACIONES - CID 002064, UN - RCE - CID.
  5. World Bank, 2002. "Colombia : Poverty Report, Volume 1. Main Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15294, The World Bank.
  6. Mauricio Cardenas & Roberto Junguito & Mónica Pachón, 2006. "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes in Colombia: The Effects of the 1991 Constitution," Research Department Publications 3198, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  7. Gomez-Sorzano, Gustavo, 2006. "A model of cyclical terrorist murder in Colombia, 1950-2004. Forecasts 2005-2019," MPRA Paper 134, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 22 May 2006.
  8. Gomez-Sorzano, Gustavo, 2006. "The econometrics of violence, terrorism and scenarios for peace in Colombia from 1950 to 2019," MPRA Paper 539, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Ligia Melo Becerra, 2005. "Impacto De La Descentralización Fiscal Sobre La Educación Pública Colombiana," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 002802, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
  10. Germán Silva García & Iván Pacheco, 2001. "El crimen y la justicia en Colombia según la Misión Alesina," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 3(5), pages 185-208, July-Dece.
  11. Gomez-Sorzano, Gustavo, 2007. "Developing the concept of Sustainable Peace using Econometrics and scenarios granting Sustainable Peace in Colombia by year 2019," MPRA Paper 5655, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 07 Nov 2007.
  12. Luis Eduardo Sandoval & Armando Palencia Pérez & Deissy Martínez Barón, 2009. "Pobreza y delincuencia departamental en Colombia 2003 - 2007," REVISTA FACULTAD DE CIENCIAS ECONÓMICAS, UNIVERSIDAD MILITAR NUEVA GRANADA.

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