This research group aims at studding 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. Latin America’s victimization rates—the fraction of people, who are victims of crime, are significantly above the rates observed in the U.S. and Canada (Latin American Public Opinion Project, LAPOP, 2012). As a result, 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 (LAPOP 2012). In this context, the economics of crime is at the forefront of social challenges in Latin America: Scholars, activists and legislators are all debating both causes and potential solutions.
Conflict. Over the second half of the twentieth century, conflicts within national boundaries have become increasingly dominant. One third of all countries have experienced civil conflict. Moreover, more than half of these civil conflicts have been classified as ethnic or religious. The study of human conflict is (and has been) a central topic in political science and sociology, but economics has paid attention to it only recently. The emphasis on economic inequality as a causal correlate of conflict seems natural, but there is no clear-cut correlation between inequality and social conflict in the data. Recent research suggests, indeed, an interesting interaction between inequality and ethnicity, by which the degree of inequality within ethnic groups affects their effectiveness in conflict. In sum, costly social conflict is prevalent in most countries and the study of its determinants seems to be a high priority task. The traditional approach looking at a simple relationship between inequality and conflict has not obtained empirical validation. This makes it even more urgent to explore alternative channels paying particular attention to the relation between ethnicity and inequality.

a) A workshop on “Crime and Development“ to be held in Montevideo, March 23-24 2015, in coordination with the AL CAPONE Network (LACEA). Organizers: Joao De Melo (PUC-Rio), Rafael Di  Tella (Harvard), Daniel Mejía (U. de los Andes), and Rodrigo Soares (PUC-Rio).

b) A workshop on “Social Conflict and Economic Development“ to be held in Montevideo, December 2015. Organizers: Joan Esteban (IAE-CSIC and Barcelona GSE) and Debraj Ray (NYU).

Local Host Institution and Organizers
Universidad de Montevideo; Juan Dubra and Ignacio Munyo.

The research group would like to organize a course on Social Conflict by Joan Esteban (Barcelona GSE) and Debraj Ray (NYU), and another on Crime by Rafael di Tella (Harvard).