Produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), the Mexico Peace Index provides a comprehensive measure of peacefulness in Mexico, including trends, analysis and estimates of the economic impact of violence in the country. The MPI is based on the Global Peace Index, the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness, produced by IEP every year since 2007.
According to this year’s report, Mexico recorded a slight improvement in peacefulness of 0.9%. This is the third straight year of progress; however, this follows four years of steep declines. In 2022, seventeen states improved, while 15 deteriorated.
Last year saw heightened competition, particularly between the two dominant cartels, Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa, fighting for U.S. distribution channels and local control. Mexico’s criminal landscape continues to evolve due to the dwindling U.S. illicit marijuana market. Organized crime increasingly engages in extortion, domestic drug sales, and synthetic opioid fentanyl production and trafficking.
Yucatán remains the most peaceful state in Mexico, followed by Tlaxcala and Chiapas, while Colima is ranked as the country’s least peaceful state. More than half of all homicide cases take place in just seven states — Guanajuato, Baja California, the state of México, Michoacán, Jalisco, Chihuahua and Sonora.
Since 2015, there has been a surge in the number of homicides tied to organized crime. Between 68% to 80% of all homicides are now estimated to be linked to organized crime groups, up from an estimated 44% in 2015. Over the past eight years, the annual count of organized crime-related homicides rose dramatically from approximately 8,000, to over 23,500. The number of homicides not associated with organized crime remained relatively constant during the same period.
The impact of violence came with a hefty price tag in 2022, costing the country’s economy 4.6 trillion pesos (US$230 billion), or 18% of its GDP. This figure is equivalent to 35,705 pesos for each Mexican citizen, more than double the average Mexican worker’s monthly paycheck.
Mexico’s government has reduced spending on domestic security and military operations. Mexico suffers from widespread impunity, increases in unsolved cases and a significant number of individuals with detention without a sentence.
Over the past eight years, homicides with firearms have increased substantially and are the leading cause of both male and female homicides in Mexico. From 2015 to 2022, the percentage of male homicides resulting from firearms rose from 61% to 72%, while the proportion of firearm-related female homicides rose from 38% to 60%.
The surge in violence against security forces, journalists, and social activists also underscores the ongoing challenges. In 2022, the country witnessed the killing of 403 police officers and 13 journalists. This tally ranks Mexico as the world’s second deadliest country for the press, behind Ukraine. The plight of environmental activists is no less challenging, with a record 54 fatalities in 2021.
This year’s MPI underscores the persistent challenges posed by organized crime despite overall improvements in peacefulness. “While we are encouraged by the signs of progress, we recognize the need for a comprehensive approach to address the complex dynamics of organized crime, violence, and socio-economic resilience,” said Carlos Juarez, Mexico Program Director, IEP. “There is a need for increased investment in the judicial system, and continued efforts to address corruption, enhance governance, and promote sustainable peace”.
Mexico’s socio-economic resilience, as tracked by the Positive Peace Index (PPI), has slipped by 3.1% since 2009. In a global comparison, Mexico stands at 76th out of 163 countries on the PPI, in contrast to its 137th rank on the Global Peace Index. This indicates that, despite the ongoing public security crisis, the country possesses the social infrastructure needed to move towards a more sustainable form of peace.