IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Cross-Border Spillover: U.S. Gun Laws and Violence in Mexico


  • Dube, Arindrajit

    (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Dube, Oeindrila

    (New York University)

  • García-Ponce, Omar

    (New York University)


To what extent, and under what conditions, does access to arms fuel violent crime? To answer this question, we exploit a unique natural experiment: the 2004 expiration of the U.S. Federal Assault Weapons Ban exerted a spillover on gun supply in Mexican municipios near Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, but not near California, which retained a pre-existing state-level ban. We find first that Mexican municipios located closer to the non-California border states experienced differential increases in homicides, gun-related homicides and crime gun seizures in the post-2004 period. Second, the magnitude of this effect is contingent on political factors related to Mexico's democratic transition. Killings increased substantially more in municipios where local elections had become more competitive prior to 2004, with the largest differentials emerging in high narco-trafficking areas. Our findings are consistent with the notion that political competition undermined informal agreements between drug cartels and entrenched local governments, highlighting the role of political instability in mediating the gun-crime relationship.

Suggested Citation

  • Dube, Arindrajit & Dube, Oeindrila & García-Ponce, Omar, 2012. "Cross-Border Spillover: U.S. Gun Laws and Violence in Mexico," IZA Discussion Papers 7098, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7098

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Jose Roberto Balmori de la Miyar, 2020. "Breaking sad: drug-related homicides and mental well-being in Mexico," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 67(4), pages 513-531, December.
    2. Lindo, Jason M. & Padilla-Romo, María, 2018. "Kingpin approaches to fighting crime and community violence: Evidence from Mexico's drug war," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 253-268.
    3. repec:uab:wprdea:wpdea1410 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Balmori de la Miyar Jose Roberto, 2019. "Violence and Avoidance Behavior: The Case of the Mexican Drug War," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 25(4), pages 1-7, December.
    5. Roxana Gutierrez-Romero & Monica Oviedo Leon, 2014. "The good, the bad and the ugly: The socio-economic impact of drug cartels and their violence in Mexico," Working Papers wpdea1407, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
    6. Lee, Kangoh, 2015. "Federalism, guns, and jurisdictional gun policies," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 141-153.
    7. Brian Knight, 2013. "State Gun Policy and Cross-State Externalities: Evidence from Crime Gun Tracing," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 200-229, November.
    8. Donald J. Lacombe & Miguel Flores, 2017. "A hierarchical SLX model application to violent crime in Mexico," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 58(1), pages 119-134, January.
    9. Pedro Paulo Orraca-Romano, 2018. "Crime Exposure and Educational Outcomes in Mexico. (Violencia y desempeño académico en México)," Ensayos Revista de Economia, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Facultad de Economia, vol. 0(2), pages 177-212, October.
    10. Juan Camilo Castillo, Daniel Mejia, and Pascual Restrepo, 2014. "Scarcity without Leviathan: The Violent Effects of Cocaine Supply Shortages in the Mexican Drug War - Working Paper 356," Working Papers 356, Center for Global Development.
    11. Bella Martinez-Seis & Obdulia Pichardo-Lagunas & Harlan Koff & Miguel Equihua & Octavio Perez-Maqueo & Arturo Hernández-Huerta, 2022. "Unified, Labeled, and Semi-Structured Database of Pre-Processed Mexican Laws," Data, MDPI, vol. 7(7), pages 1-13, July.
    12. Yang Zhao & Beomsoo Kim, 2022. "Environmental Regulation and Chronic Conditions: Evidence from China’s Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(19), pages 1-17, October.
    13. David Fortunato, 2015. "Can Easing Concealed Carry Deter Crime?," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1071-1085, December.
    14. Maren M. Michaelsen & Paola Salardi, 2018. "Violence, Psychological Stress and Educational Performance during the "War on Drugs" in Mexico," Working Papers tecipa-595, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    15. Bucheli, José R. & Fontenla, Matías & Waddell, Benjamin James, 2019. "Return migration and violence," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 113-124.
    16. Maren M. Michaelsen & Paola Salardi, 2018. "Violence, Psychological Stress and Educational Performance during the “War on Drugs†in Mexico," HiCN Working Papers 262, Households in Conflict Network.
    17. Federico Cingano & Marco Tonello, 2020. "Law Enforcement, Social Control and Organized Crime: Evidence from Local Government Dismissals in Italy," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 6(2), pages 221-254, July.
    18. Ceren Baysan & Marshall Burke & Felipe González & Solomon Hsiang & Edward Miguel, 2018. "Economic and Non-Economic Factors in Violence: Evidence from Organized Crime, Suicides and Climate in Mexico," NBER Working Papers 24897, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Baysan, Ceren & Burke, Marshall & González, Felipe & Hsiang, Solomon & Miguel, Edward, 2019. "Non-economic factors in violence: Evidence from organized crime, suicides and climate in Mexico," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 434-452.
    20. Dominic Rohner & Mathias Thoenig, 2021. "The Elusive Peace Dividend of Development Policy: From War Traps to Macro Complementarities," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 13(1), pages 111-131, August.
    21. Zhuang Hao & Benjamin Cowan, 2017. "The Cross-Border Spillover Effects of Recreational Marijuana Legalization," NBER Working Papers 23426, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Michaelsen, Maren M. & Salardi, Paola, 2020. "Violence, psychological stress and educational performance during the “war on drugs” in Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    23. Jetter, Michael & Walker, Jay K., 2022. "News coverage and mass shootings in the US," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).
    24. Blanco, Luisa R., 2013. "The impact of crime on trust in institutions in Mexico," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 38-55.

    More about this item


    gun control; violence; informal employment; cross-border spillover; cartels;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7098. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Holger Hinte (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.