The Economics of CrimeLessons For and From Latin America

The Economics of CrimeLessons For and From Latin America

Rafael Di Tella, Sebastian Edwards, and Ernesto Schargrodsky

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226153742

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Latin America has one of the highest crime rates in the world, creating climates of fear and lawlessness in several countries. Despite this situation, there has been a lack of systematic effort to study crime in the region or the effectiveness of policies designed to tackle it. This book makes an important contribution to the current debate on causes and solutions by applying lessons learned from recent developments in the economics of crime. The book presents a survey of the crime problem in Latin America, which takes a very broad and appropriately reductionist approach to analyze the determinants of the high crime levels, focusing on the negative social conditions in the region, including inequality and poverty, and poor policy design, such as relatively low police presence. The chapters illustrate three channels through which crime might generate poverty, that is, by reducing investment, by introducing assets losses, and by reducing the value of assets remaining in the control of households. The book also highlights the fact that although crime rates in Latin America are extremely high and have been growing in many countries in the last two decades, there are cities within the region that have experienced a different dynamic. Part of the strategies applied in these cities seems to have been simply an investment in the capacity of the state to attack these problems, which resulted in a combination of more intense and effective repressive measures together with social support programs.

Table of Contents


Rafael Di Tella, Sebastian Edwards, and Ernesto Schargrodsky

I Overview: Latin American Exceptionalism?

II The Economics of Crime Meets Latin America

3 The Cost of Avoiding Crime: The Case of Bogotá

Alejandro Gaviria, Carlos Medina, Leonardo Morales and Jairo Núñez

5 Crime Distribution and Victim Behavior during a Crime Wave

Rafael Di Tella, Sebastian Galiani, and Ernesto Schargrodsky

7 The Quality of Life in Prisons: Do Educational Programs Reduce In-Prison Conflicts?

María Laura Alzüa, Catherine Rodriguez, and Edgar Villa

III International Evidence

8. What Do Economists Know About Crime?

Angela K. Dills, Jeffrey A. Miron, and Garrett Summers