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A Structural Model of Crime and Inequality in Colombia


  • François Bourguignon

    (DELTA, The World Bank, and Ecole Normale Supérieure,)

  • Jairo Nuñez

    (CEDE, Universidad de los Audes,)

  • Fabio Sanchez

    (CEDE, Universidad de los Audes,)


Economic theory suggests that inequality should influence crime positively. Yet, the evidence in favor of that hypothesis is weak. Pure cross-sectional analyses show significant positive effects but cannot control for fixed effects. Time series and panel data point to a variety of results, but few turn out being significant. The hypothesis maintained in this paper is that it is a specific part of the distribution, rather than the overall distribution as summarized by conventional inequality measures, that is most likely to influence the rate of (property) crime in a given society. Using a simple theoretical model and panel data in seven Colombian cities over a fifteen-year period, a structural model is proposed that permits identifying the precise segment of the population whose relative income best explains time changes in crime. (JEL: K42, D63, O15) Copyright (c) 2003 The European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • François Bourguignon & Jairo Nuñez & Fabio Sanchez, 2003. "A Structural Model of Crime and Inequality in Colombia," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 440-449, 04/05.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:1:y:2003:i:2-3:p:440-449

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Paolo Buonanno & Daniel Montolio & Paolo Vanin, 2009. "Does Social Capital Reduce Crime?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(1), pages 145-170, February.
    2. José Raimundo Carvalho & Sylvia Cristina Lavor, 2008. "Repeat criminal victimization and income inequality In Brazil," Anais do XXXVI Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 36th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 200807180945460, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    3. Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio & Molina, José Alberto & Silva Quintero, Edgar, 2016. "How Forced Displacements Caused by a Violent Conflict Affect Wages in Colombia," IZA Discussion Papers 9926, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Akçomak, İ. Semih & ter Weel, Bas, 2012. "The impact of social capital on crime: Evidence from the Netherlands," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 323-340.
    5. Vincent Bignon & Eve Caroli & Roberto Galbiati, 2011. "Stealing to Survive: Crime and Income Shocks in 19th Century France," PSE Working Papers halshs-00623804, HAL.
    6. Roger Waldeck, 2016. "Modeling criminality: the impact of emotions, norms and interaction structures," Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 135-160, June.
    7. Calvo-Armengol, Antoni & Verdier, Thierry & Zenou, Yves, 2007. "Strong and weak ties in employment and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 203-233, February.
    8. Rodrigo R. Soares & Joana Naritomi, 2010. "Understanding High Crime Rates in Latin America: The Role of Social and Policy Factors," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 19-55 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Mauro Costantini & Iris Meco & Antonio Paradiso, 2016. "Common trends in the US state-level crime.What do panel data say?," Working Papers 2016:14, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    10. Chioda, Laura & De Mello, João M.P. & Soares, Rodrigo R., 2016. "Spillovers from conditional cash transfer programs: Bolsa Família and crime in urban Brazil," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 306-320.
    11. Fafchamps, Marcel & Minten, Bart, 2006. "Crime, Transitory Poverty, and Isolation: Evidence from Madagascar," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(3), pages 579-603, April.
    12. Dix-Carneiro, Rafael & Soares, Rodrigo R. & Ulysse, Gabriel, 2017. "Economic Shocks and Crime: Evidence from the Brazilian Trade Liberalization," GLO Discussion Paper Series 3, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    13. Songman Kang, 2016. "Inequality and crime revisited: effects of local inequality and economic segregation on crime," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(2), pages 593-626, April.
    14. Brosio, Giorgio & Zanola, Roberto, 2006. "Can violence be rational? An empirical analysis of Colombia," POLIS Working Papers 74, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
    15. Dix-Carneiro, Rafael & Soares, Rodrigo R. & Ulyssea, Gabriel, 2016. "Local Labor Market Conditions and Crime: Evidence from the Brazilian Trade Liberalization," IZA Discussion Papers 9638, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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