This research group aims at studying two critical social problems faced by the developing world: crime and conflict.

Crime. Citizen security is one of the main concerns in Latin America. With an average of 22 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, Latin America has a higher murder rate than sub-Saharan Africa and is far above all the other regions in the world. Even though it is home to less than 10 percent of the global population, Latin America witnesses more than 30 percent of all the homicides committed worldwide. The perception of insecurity in Latin America is more than double the one observed in North America: The fraction of people that feel unsafe in their own neighborhood in every country in the region—without exception—is significantly higher than the level observed in the U.S. and Canada. In this context, the economics of crime can contribute to the understanding one of the most serious social challenges in Latin America, and to proposing evidence-based policies to overcome it.

Conflict. Since the end of the Second World War, conflicts within national boundaries have become increasingly dominant, even if their incidence has declinen after the end of the Cold War. During that period, one third of all countries have experienced civil conflict, and more than half of these civil conflicts have been classified as ethnic or religious. The study of violent conflict is a central topic in the social sciences, including the recent surge in research on conflict from Economics. Indeed, not only internal conflicts often have economic causes and consequences, but economic concepts (such as technology and scarcity) and methods (e.g. formal models and econometrics) are very useful to study issues regarding appropriation and violet conflict. For instance, economic inequality as a cause of conflict seems a natural topic that should interest economists (although the cross-country correlation between inequality and conflict seems rather inconclusive). In sum, social conflict is prevalent in many developing countries and the study of its causes and consequences should be a high priority for economists.