The Economics of Crime: Lessons For and From Latin America

University of Chicago Press
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Crime rates in Latin America are among the highest 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. The Economics of Crime is a powerful corrective to this academic blind spot and 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 Economics of Crime addresses a variety of topics, including the impact of kidnappings on investment, mandatory arrest laws, education in prisons, and the relationship between poverty and crime. Utilizining research from within and without Latin America, this book illustrates the broad range of approaches that have been efficacious in studying crime in both developing and developed nations. The Economics of Crime is a vital text for researchers, policymakers, and students of both crime and of Latin American economic policy.
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About the author

Rafael Di Tella is the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and a research associate of the NBER. Sebastian Edwards is the Henry Ford II Professor of International Economics at the Anderson Graduate School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles, and a research associate of the NBER. Ernesto Schargrodsky is professor and president of Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Aug 2, 2010
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Pages
536
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ISBN
9780226153766
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Development / General
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Business & Economics / General
Business & Economics / International / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Research from the United States, Europe, and South America demonstrates the usefulness of the tools of economic analysis for the study of crime.

Economists who bring the tools of economic analysis to bear on the study of crime and crime prevention contribute to current debates a normative framework and sophisticated quantitative methods for evaluating policy, the idea of criminal behavior as rational choice, and the connection of individual choices to aggregate outcomes. The contributors to this volume draw on all three of these approaches in their investigations and discuss the policy implications of their findings.

Reporting on research in the United States, Europe, and South America, the chapters discuss such topics as a cost-benefit analysis of additional police hiring, the testing of innovative policy interventions through field experiments, imprisonment and recidivism rates, incentives and disincentives for sports hooliganism (“hooliganomics”), data showing the influence of organized crime on the quality of local politicians, and the (scant) empirical evidence for the effect of immigration on crime. These contributions demonstrate the eclectic approach of economists studying crime as well as their increasing respect for the contributions of other social scientists in this area.

Contributors
Brian Bell, Paolo Buonanno, Philip J. Cook, John J. Donohue III, Jeffrey R. Kling, Jens Ludwig, Stephen Machin, Olivier Marie, Giovanni Mastrobuoni, Sendhil Mullainathan, Aurélie Ouss, Emily Greene Owens, Stefan Pichler, Paolo Pinotti, Mikael Priks, Daniel Römer, Rodrigo R. Soares, Igor Viveiros

The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region has the undesirable distinction of being the world's most violent region, with 24.7 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. The magnitude of the problem is staggering and persistent. Of the top 50 most violent cities in the world, 42 are in LAC. In 2010 alone, 142,302 people in LAC fell victim to homicide, representing 390 homicides per day and 4.06 homicides every 15 minutes. Crime disproportionately affects young men aged 20 to 24, whose homicide rate of 92 per 100,000 nearly quadruples that of the region. The focus of Crime Prevention in Latin America and the Caribben is to identify policy interventions that, whether by design or indirect effect, have been shown to affect antisocial behavior early in life and patterns of criminal offending in youth and adults. Particular attention is devoted to recent studies that rigorously establish a causal link between the interventions in question and outcomes. This publication adopts a lifecycle perspective and argues that as individuals progress through different stages of the lifecycle, not only do different sets of risk factors arise and take more prominence, but their interactions and interdependencies shape human behavior. These interactions and the relative importance of different sets of risk factors identify relevant margins that can effectively be targeted by prevention policies, not only early in life, but throughout the lifecycle. Indeed prevention can never start too early, nor start too late, nor be too comprehensive.
In this instant New York Times Bestseller, Geoff Smart and Randy Street provide a simple, practical, and effective solution to what The Economist calls “the single biggest problem in business today”: unsuccessful hiring. The average hiring mistake costs a company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours. This statistic becomes even more startling when you consider that the typical hiring success rate of managers is only 50 percent.

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Despite recent political movements to establish democratic rule in Latin American countries, much of the region still suffers from pervasive violence. From vigilantism, to human rights violations, to police corruption, violence persists. It is perpetrated by state-sanctioned armies, guerillas, gangs, drug traffickers, and local community groups seeking self-protection. The everyday presence of violence contrasts starkly with governmental efforts to extend civil, political, and legal rights to all citizens, and it is invoked as evidence of the failure of Latin American countries to achieve true democracy. The contributors to this collection take the more nuanced view that violence is not a social aberration or the result of institutional failure; instead, it is intimately linked to the institutions and policies of economic liberalization and democratization.

The contributors—anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists, and historians—explore how individuals and institutions in Latin American democracies, from the rural regions of Colombia and the Dominican Republic to the urban centers of Brazil and Mexico, use violence to impose and contest notions of order, rights, citizenship, and justice. They describe the lived realities of citizens and reveal the historical foundations of the violence that Latin America suffers today. One contributor examines the tightly woven relationship between violent individuals and state officials in Colombia, while another contextualizes violence in Rio de Janeiro within the transnational political economy of drug trafficking. By advancing the discussion of democratic Latin American regimes beyond the usual binary of success and failure, this collection suggests more sophisticated ways of understanding the challenges posed by violence, and of developing new frameworks for guaranteeing human rights in Latin America.

Contributors: Enrique Desmond Arias, Javier Auyero, Lilian Bobea, Diane E. Davis, Robert Gay, Daniel M. Goldstein, Mary Roldán, Todd Landman, Ruth Stanley, María Clemencia Ramírez

The political and economic history of Latin America has been marked by great hopes and even greater disappointments. Despite abundant resources—and a history of productivity and wealth—in recent decades the region has fallen further and further behind developed nations, surpassed even by other developing economies in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.

In Left Behind, Sebastian Edwards explains why the nations of Latin America have failed to share in the fruits of globalization and forcefully highlights the dangers of the recent turn to economic populism in the region. He begins by detailing the many ways Latin American governments have stifled economic development over the years through excessive regulation, currency manipulation, and thoroughgoing corruption. He then turns to the neoliberal reforms of the early 1990s, which called for the elimination of deficits, lowering of trade barriers, and privatization of inefficient public enterprises—and which, Edwards argues, held the promise of freeing Latin America from the burdens of the past. Flawed implementation, however, meant the promised gains of globalization were never felt by the mass of citizens, and growing frustration with stalled progress has led to a resurgence of populism throughout the region, exemplified by the economic policies of Venezuela’sHugo Chávez. But such measures, Edwards warns, are a recipe for disaster; instead, he argues, the way forward for Latin America lies in further market reforms, more honestly pursued and fairly implemented. As an example of the promise of that approach, Edwards points to Latin America's giant, Brazil, which under the successful administration of President Luis Inácio da Silva (Lula) has finally begun to show signs of reaching its true economic potential.

As the global financial crisis has reminded us, the risks posed by failing economies extend far beyond their national borders. Putting Latin America back on a path toward sustained growth is crucial not just for the region but for the world, and Left Behind offers a clear, concise blueprint for the way forward.
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We’re used to thinking of the United States in opposing terms: red versus blue, haves versus have-nots. But today there are three Americas. At one extreme are the brain hubs—cities like San Francisco, Boston, and Durham—with workers who are among the most productive, creative, and best paid on the planet. At the other extreme are former manufacturing capitals, which are rapidly losing jobs and residents. The rest of America could go either way. For the past thirty years, the three Americas have been growing apart at an accelerating rate. This divergence is one the most important developments in the history of the United States and is reshaping the very fabric of our society, affecting all aspects of our lives, from health and education to family stability and political engagement. But the winners and losers aren’t necessarily who you’d expect.

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