Mexico Peace Index just launched

Institute for Economics & Peace/Cross-posted from PCDN
November 29, 2013

The study finds that there was a 7.4% improvement in Mexico’s peace scores in the last two years, driven by decreases in organized crime, violent crime, and weapons crime. However, over the past 10 years Mexico experienced a marked increase in direct violence, with peace declining by 27%. A key factor was the 37% increase in the homicide rate since 2007.

The 2013 MPI presents comparisons between the states and the regions of Mexico, and finds that the states with the highest levels of peace are: Campeche, Queretaro, Hidalgo, Yucatan and Baja California Sur while the five least peaceful states are: Morelos, Guerrero, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Quintana Roo.

The study finds that Oaxaca, Chiapas and Yucatan experienced the most substantial increases in their levels of peace during the last decade. Oaxaca improved its score by 22% and Chiapas by 17%. These states were found to be relatively peaceful in comparison with other areas of Latin America and North America. Campeche, for example, has a level of peace comparable with the states of New Mexico and Delaware in the United States.

Regionally, the research finds that the Eastern region of Mexico is the most peaceful, while the Northern region is the most violent.

Analysis of federal funding to state police (Fondo de Aportaciones para la Seguridad Publica) finds that increases in police funding are related to crime reporting rates, with increased funding improving the public’s relationship with the police.

The direct cost of violence to the Mexican economy is 3.8% of GDP, while the indirect costs amount to 12% for a total 2.49 trillion pesos (15.8% of GDP). Under optimal conditions, if there was no violence in Mexico, the economy would have the potential to improve by up to 27%. This figure includes direct and indirect costs and the additional flow-on economic activity that would eventuate from new money being added to the economy. The study highlights that if all the states of Mexico were as peaceful as Campeche, the most peaceful state in the country, Mexico would reap an economic benefit of 2.26 trillion pesos.

The most peaceful Mexican states in 2003 experienced the strongest economic performance in 2012. Over the past 10 years, these states’ GDP increased by 9% versus 4% in the least peaceful states.

Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman of IEP said: “Compared to other countries with a similar level of conflict and development, Mexico has the greatest potential to increase its peace on account of the strength of the structures, attitudes and institutions that sustain peace in the long term.” He added that: “This research aims to provide the evidence base and data for a broader policy debate about how to reduce violence in Mexico”.

Mexico’s standing in regards to positive peace is encouraging: the country has a strong business environment, performs well on measures of human development, and ranks better than world averages on education.

FACTORS IMPACTING PEACE IN MEXICO

It is well known that the increase in the levels of violence in Mexico has been a consequence of the war against drug trafficking, but there are other key factors at play.

The number of firearms smuggled into Mexico increased substantially during the last decade, almost three times higher in the period 2010-2012 than between 1997 and 1999.

As a consequence, the weapons crime indicator, which measures the number of offenses involving the use of weapons, recorded a significant increase of 117% per 100,000 people during the last decade.

The measure of the efficiency of the justice system has recorded a significant deterioration. In some states up to 95% of homicides remain unpunished.

In addition, the public perception of corruption is very high and one of the greatest challenges facing Mexico.

Prison capacity is overstretched with a Mexico Evalua 2013 report stating that 52.4% of prisons in the country are over-crowded and house 74% of the prison population in Mexico.

There is a high level of unreported crime in Mexico. According to data from the National Survey of Victimization and Perception of Public Safety 2012 (ENVIPE), only 19% of theft, 10% of fraud and 10% of extortion cases are reported.

It is important to address all of these key challenges in order to reduce violence and realise the social and economic benefits of peace in Mexico.

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