Crime takes toll on Latin American and Caribbean economies

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday January 31, 2013 – Crime and violence have had a dramatic impact on women, youth and the economic well-being of families in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to several studies commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The new studies underscore the more hidden dimensions of the cost of crime on Latin America’s economies, by looking at issues such as women’s health and property values.

The studies were the result of a call for proposals to academics and other experts to use innovative and appropriate methodologies to measure the cost of crime and violence in the region. 

According to the IDB findings, the children of women who have suffered from domestic violence have a greater risk of being born underweight, and grow up with more feeble health, with less chance they will be vaccinated and more likely to suffer from diarrhea, according to one study on seven countries in the region.

Latin American and Caribbean citizens reportedly cite crime and violence as their top concern, above unemployment, healthcare and other issues. The region suffers from some of the world’s highest homicide rates and 20 of the world’s most violence cities are located in Latin America and the Caribbean. Public trust in public institutions and the police is also lower than for other regions in the world. 

“Crime has tangible direct costs such as the cost of funding a private and public security infrastructure to prevent and combat crime,” said Ana Corbacho, sector economic advisor of the IDB’s Institutions for Development (IFD) Sector, which covers citizen security at the IDB. “But the implications of crime on the region’s wellbeing are potentially much greater. Violence not only victimizes individuals—it undermines trust in public institutions.”  Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)