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High violent crime in the Caribbean and socio-demographic factors.

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Do socio-demographic factors explain high violent crime in the Caribbean?

(blogs.iadb) In previous blogs about a recent study on crime in the Caribbean, we find that violent crime is uniquely high in the sub-region, and that the victims are mainly young, low-income males. With the study Restoring Paradise in the Caribbean: Combating Violence with Numbers (executive summary here), we have set out not just to characterize the situation of crime and violence in the Caribbean, but also, try to explain it. And we began by looking at socio-demographic factors:

Age and gender

So, if young males are more likely to be victims and perpetrators of violent crime, then maybe high violent crime in the Caribbean is explained by the high proportion of young males in the population. Figure 1 shows that there is a relationship between the homicide rate and the percentage of the population that is young and male worldwide (Spearman’s Rho = 0.47, P>0.05, n = 145). However, the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region has higher homicide rates than countries in other parts of the world, even with the same levels of young male populations.

Figure 1 -Percentage of the population young and male versus national homicide rates –

Source: Sutton and Ruprah 2017 using homicide data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime data and United Nations population data (2010).

Percent Urban and GDP growth

Given that urban areas have higher rates of victimization, we might imagine that countries with higher percentages of the population in urban areas would have higher crime rates. Similarly, we could theorize that increased wealth of a country (GDP growth) would lead a country to have lower crime rates. However, figures 2 and 3 show that Latin America and the Caribbean continue to stand out with higher levels of homicide than other countries with similarly urbanized populations and GDP growth rates. This suggests that the region is still more violent than it should be for the level of economic growth and age, gender, and urban composition of the population.

Figure 2- Percentage of the population that is urban versus national homicide rates

Sources: Sutton and Ruprah 2017 using data from the World Bank, World Development Indicators; and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime homicide data (2012).

 

Figure 3 – GDP growth versus national homicide rates

Sources: Sutton and Ruprah 2017 using data from the World Bank, World Development Indicators; and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime homicide data (2012).

But if these factors don’t completely explain the uniquely high levels of violent crime in the Caribbean, what does? Stay tuned for future blogs that will address this question focusing on tolerance of violence in the home, at-risk youth, neighbourhood characteristics, gangs, guns, and criminal justice institutions.

About the author:

Heather Sutton is an IDB consultant in Citizen Security. She is the Research Coordinator for several IDB projects on crime and violence in the Caribbean involving victimization surveys and surveys on Violence Against Women. Before coming to the IDB, Heather worked as a researcher, project manager and activist on the subjects of public safety, armed violence and gun control for the Brazilian NGO Instituto Sou da Paz. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a BA in International Affairs from Colorado University.

This article was posted in its entirety as received by www.onecaribbeannetwork.com. 
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