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Is Violence Against Union Members in Colombia Systematic and Targeted?


  • Daniel Mejía


  • María José Uribe



Violence against union members in Colombia has been at the center of a debate for several years now. Union leaders and NGOs in Colombia and abroad continuously argue that free trade agreements with Colombia should be blocked based on the failure of the current Colombian government to protect union members from targeted killings. We first look at the evolution over time of the indicators for violence against union members and union leaders. In particular we show (using different indicators and data sources) that violence against unionists in Colombia has steadily declined over the last seven years. Then, we use available panel data to study the determinants of violence against union members and union leaders. We make special emphasis on testing the claim that a greater intensity in the characteristic activities of unions leads to more violence against union members and union leaders. Using different data sets, data sources and estimation methods, we find no statistical evidence supporting this claim. These results suggest that, on average, violence against unionists in Colombia is neither systematic nor targeted.

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  • Daniel Mejía & María José Uribe, 2009. "Is Violence Against Union Members in Colombia Systematic and Targeted?," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 006147, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:006147

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 1997. "On two stage least squares estimation of the average treatment effect in a random coefficient model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 129-133, October.
    2. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Gaviria, Alejandro & Pages, Carmen, 2002. "Patterns of crime victimization in Latin American cities," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 181-203, February.
    4. Rafael Di Tella & Sebastian Galiani & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2010. "Crime Distribution and Victim Behavior during a Crime Wave," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 175-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Steven D. Levitt, 1999. "The changing relationship between income and crime victimization," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 87-98.
    6. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
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    More about this item


    Violence; Targeted Killings; Unions; Union Activity;

    JEL classification:

    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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