Essays on Violent Crime in Mexico and the World

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2018-11-06
Language: English
Faculty: 6 Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Advisor: Baten, Jörg (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2018-09-24
DDC Classifikation: 330 - Economics
Keywords: Totschlag , Lebensstandard , Wirtschaftsgeschichte , Mexiko
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The main goal of the presented studies is to identify determinants of crime by looking at specific contexts in which crime rates have been observed to be especially high. The first paper of the thesis presents a case study on the country of Mexico, a country that is notorious for its high prevalence of violence and crime. Especially in recent years Mexico has caught the attention of the international public due to its spectacular increase in murder rates. The paper reconstructs the development of crime back until the beginning of the 20th century and then examines the driving forces behind this development. While looking at some of the general determinants that have been identified in a global framework as drivers of crime, the study also looks at factors that are specific to the Mexican case. The second chapter, a result of a cooperation with my supervisor, Jörg Baten, shifts the focus away from the single country-case towards a worldwide perspective. Using a newly assembled global data set, the paper takes a look at the impact of valuable natural resources, a factor that has been known to increase the risk of collective violence such as interstate war and civil conflict. The paper shows that the presence of valuable silver resources can be a main driver of violent crime, by altering the incentives in an economy. Deterrence is the hypothesis that the threat of a severe punishment can decrease the expected utility of a crime substantially, which results in fewer crimes. While often used as anti-crime measure, the efficacy of deterrence has not been proven reliably. One fact that complicates the matter is that the relationship between crime and punishment is not clear-cut. Societies might react to changes in crime rates and adjust punishment accordingly, hence there is the potential of reverse causation. Using a newly assembled data set it was possible to model the complex interactions between homicide rates and the capital punishment and to test the deterrence hypothesis as well as the hypothesis that crime levels determine the severity of punishment in the final chapter of the thesis.

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