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Understanding crime in Colombia and what can be done about It

Author

Listed:
  • Levitt Steven
  • Mauricio Rubio

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Levitt Steven & Mauricio Rubio, 2000. "Understanding crime in Colombia and what can be done about It," Working Papers Series. Documentos de Trabajo 3735, Fedesarrollo.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000123:003735
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/11445/819
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Armando Montenegro & Carlos Esteban Posada, 1995. "Criminalidad en Colombia," Coyuntura Económica, Fedesarrollo, March.
    2. 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 343-363, April.
    3. 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.
    4. Steven D. Levitt & Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, 2000. "An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 115(3), pages 755-789.
    5. Steiner, Roberto, 1998. "Colombia's income from the drug trade," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1013-1031, June.
    6. 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 270-290, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. ¿Por qué bajan los homicidios? Hipótesis sobre la violencia en Colombia
      by piedradetoque in La Silla Vacía on 2016-06-02 21:26:04

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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, June.
    2. Duque, Valentina, 2019. "Violence and Children’s Education: Evidence from Administrative Data," Working Papers 2019-16, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    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. Daniel Mejía & Carlos Posada, 2003. "Capital Destruction, Optimal Defense and Economic Growth," Borradores de Economia 257, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    5. Mauricio Cárdenas & Roberto Junguito B. & Mónica Pachón B., 2006. "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes in Colombia : the Effects of the 1991 Constitution," Coyuntura Económica, Fedesarrollo, June.
    6. Becerra, Ligia Melo, 2004. "Intergovernmental fiscal relations : the Colombian case," Economics PhD Theses 0304, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
    7. World Bank, 2002. "Colombia : Poverty Report, Volume 1. Main Report," World Bank Publications - Reports 15294, The World Bank Group.
    8. 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.
    9. Ligia Melo Becerra, 2005. "Impacto De La Descentralización Fiscal Sobre La Educación Pública Colombiana," Borradores de Economia 2802, Banco de la Republica.
    10. Zuleta, Hernando & Villaveces, Marta Juanita & Andonova, Veneta, 2013. "Conflict and negotiation in Colombia: Are pre-donations useful?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 105-117.
    11. 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.
    12. Ricardo Bonilla González & Jorge Iván González, 2006. "Bien-estar y macroeconomía 2002-2006: el crecimiento inequitativo no es sostenible," Publicaciones, CID 2064, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, FCE, CID.
    13. 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.
    14. Carlos Vargas-Silva, 2009. "Crime and Remittance Transfers," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 232-247.
    15. Mamadou Camara & Pierre Salama, 2003. "Homicides en Amérique du Sud : les pauvres sont-ils dangereux ?," Revue Tiers Monde, Programme National Persée, vol. 44(174), pages 393-416.
    16. 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.
    17. Ralston, Laura, 2014. "Trafficking and fragility in West Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7079, The World Bank.
    18. 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.
    19. Côme Dechery & Laura Ralston, 2015. "Trafficking and Fragility in West Africa," World Bank Publications - Reports 22475, The World Bank Group.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Violencia; Crimen; Economía Institucional; Reformas Institucionales;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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