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The effects of trust on victimization in Colombia


  • José Cuesta

    (Institute of Public Policy, Georgetown University)

  • Erik Alda

    (Department of Justice, Law and Society, American University)


The allegedly complex relationship between trust and victimization has rarely been modeled and, when done, the effect of trust on victimization has been found not statistically significant. This study finds otherwise, estimating an instrumental model with community data from Cali, Colombia. Cali’s dismal levels of victimization were only second to Medellin, the most violent city of the world in the 1990s. But Cali also pioneered a strategy of social capital formation as the backbone of a deliberate public policy to crack down on high levels of crime. This article first develops a model of victimization that includes interpersonal trust as determinant and then instruments interpersonal trust with district-level average trust. We argue that an individual-specific level of trust in his or her community members does not affect the community level of interpersonal trust in the margin. However, the levels – or perceived levels – of interpersonal trust in the community may affect the specific level of trust of an individual in other members of that community, along with personal characteristics and experience. Using GMM estimates, this study finds evidence of a relationship between interpersonal trust and victimization, statistically significant and negative in sign. The result is robust across specifications of trust, victimization, and estimating techniques. We conclude that increasing trust in trusting communities contributes to reducing victimization in its own right, although the effect is modest. Consequently, strengthening interpersonal trust is another bullet to combat victimization but it is not a silver bullet.

Suggested Citation

  • José Cuesta & Erik Alda, 2012. "The effects of trust on victimization in Colombia," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(6), pages 833-846, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:6:p:833-846

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    Cited by:

    1. Corbacho, Ana & Philipp, Julia & Ruiz-Vega, Mauricio, 2015. "Crime and Erosion of Trust: Evidence for Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 400-415.
    2. Wong P-H., 2014. "How can political trust be built after civil wars? : lessons from post-conflict Sierra Leone," MERIT Working Papers 083, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).


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