Fear and Loitering in Mexico: The Significance of Age Structure, Education, and Youth Unemployment for Explaining Sub-National Variation in Violent Youth Crime

40 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2017

See all articles by Nicolas Juarez

Nicolas Juarez

Heidelberg University

Henrik Urdal

International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)

Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati

University College Dublin (UCD) - Department of Politics

Date Written: February 2013

Abstract

Violent crime in Mexico occurs at a rate that dwarf the human costs of most contemporary civil wars, and the drug cartels responsible for the violence exercise de facto control over significant geographical territories. In this respect, the Mexican ‘drug wars’ resemble conflicts over the control of rich natural resources in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, blurring the distinction between ‘political’ and ‘social’ or ‘criminal’ violence. In the civil war literature, the ‘opportunity perspective’ emphasizes conditions that provide opportunities for a rebel group to wage war against a government. Similarly, relatively large groups of ‘idle’ young men could arguably be a factor that reduces recruitment costs for criminal enterprises through the abundant supply of youth with low opportunity cost. Acknowledging organized crime around drugs trafficking as a major cause of crime and violence in Mexico, we ask whether the availability of large young male cohorts, or male ‘youth bulges’, low education, and high youth unemployment eases recruitment to these organizations and may contribute to explain variance in violent crime across Mexican states over time. Using panel data covering 32 states in Mexico during the 1997–2010 period, we find that while a coarse measure of regional youth bulges does not explain patterns of violent youth crime, high youth unemployment in low-education strata does, and in particular in the context of large male youth bulges. These results remain robust to alternative data, sample size, estimation techniques and controls for potential endogeneity concerns.

Keywords: youth bulge, education, unemployment, violent crime, Mexico

Suggested Citation

Juarez, Nicolas and Urdal, Henrik and Vadlamannati, Krishna Chaitanya, Fear and Loitering in Mexico: The Significance of Age Structure, Education, and Youth Unemployment for Explaining Sub-National Variation in Violent Youth Crime (February 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2892258 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2892258

Nicolas Juarez

Heidelberg University ( email )

Henrik Urdal

International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) ( email )

Oslo
N-0260 Oslo
Norway

Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati (Contact Author)

University College Dublin (UCD) - Department of Politics ( email )

Belfield
Dublin 4
Ireland

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