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Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from a higher level of interpersonal violence in the forms of violent crime and homicide rates, according to the 2021 Economic Value of Peace report.

To put this into perspective, almost one-third of the economic impact of violence in Latin America and the Caribbean is due to homicide — the highest among all regions.

The per capita impact of homicide and violent crime is equivalent to $708 per person in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Eight of the ten countries with the highest economic cost of homicide as a percentage of GDP are found in the region.

This high level of violence in Latin America is largely due to organised crime activities, including drug trafficking organisations.

Mexico’s economic impact of homicide and violent crime has increased by 156% since 2007, the largest increase in Latin America and the Caribbean. The homicide rate increased to 28.1 per 100,000 people, reaching the highest level since official records began in 1990.

The high homicide and violent crime rates also create fear of victimisation and lack of trust in the police among ordinary citizens. Among all regions, people in Latin America and the Caribbean were the least likely to feel secure in their communities as measured by the Law and Order Index where Latin America and the Caribbean ranks last.

Similarly, Latin America and the Caribbean ranked last in terms of public confidence in the police where only 44% of adults have confidence in their local police compared to the global average of 68%. Among the ten countries with the lowest confidence in their police force, five are located in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Venezuela and Mexico.

People in Latin America and the Caribbean are among the least likely to feel safe in their neighbourhoods globally. On average, more than half of the people in South America (56%) and half in Central America and the Caribbean (50%) report fearing violence, the highest rates in the world. Today, a greater percentage of the population fear violence than in 2006.

The 2021 Economic Value of Peace report shows that the global economic impact of violence is estimated to be $14.4 trillion. In addition to causing suffering, interpersonal violence, social unrest and collective violence hinders productivity and economic activity, destabilises institutions and reduces business confidence. Violence disrupts the economy, resulting in adverse and ongoing negative effects even after conflict subsides.

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Vision of Humanity

Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.