Criminal Governance in Latin America: An Initial Assessment of its Extent and Correlates

64 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2022 Last revised: 21 Aug 2023

See all articles by Andres Uribe

Andres Uribe

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Benjamin Lessing

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Noah Schouela

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Elayne Stecher

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Date Written: December 14, 2022

Abstract

In communities throughout Latin America, criminal organizations provide basic order; how common is this? Although a vibrant, multidisciplinary research agenda on criminal governance has explored its dynamics in hundreds of specific settings, we lack any systematic assessment of its prevalence and correlates. This note leverages novel, representative survey data, validated against a compendium of qualitative sources, to estimate the country-level prevalence of criminal governance and explore its correlates. In total, 14% of respondents across 18 countries reported order-provision and crime-reduction by local criminal groups. Representativeness concerns notwithstanding, we calculate confidence intervals of 77-101 million people affected, with reasons to suspect net under-reporting. Counterintuitively, criminal governance is correlated with positive perceptions of state governance and higher income, as well as with objective measures of local state presence. These descriptive results demonstrate the pervasiveness of non-Weberian "duopolies of violence,'" and echo findings that state presence---rather than absence---drives criminal governance. Validating and extending this survey data, and untangling the causal relationships behind these correlations, are central challenges for future research.

Keywords: Criminal governance, state capacity, Latin American politics

JEL Classification: K42, O17, O54, P37

Suggested Citation

Uribe, Andres and Lessing, Benjamin and Schouela, Noah and Stecher, Elayne, Criminal Governance in Latin America: An Initial Assessment of its Extent and Correlates (December 14, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4302432 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4302432

Andres Uribe (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Benjamin Lessing

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Noah Schouela

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Elayne Stecher

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
254
Abstract Views
825
Rank
215,166
PlumX Metrics