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Estimating the effect of inequality on crime is challenging due to reverse causality and omitted variable bias. This paper addresses these concerns by exploiting the fact that, as suggested by recent scholarly research, the legacy of slavery is largely manifested in persistent levels of economic inequality. Municipality-level economic inequality in Colombia is instrumented with a census-based measure of the proportion of slaves before the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century. It is found that inequality increases both property crime and violent crime. The estimates are robust to including traditional determinants of crime (like population density, proportion of young males, average education level, quality of law enforcement institutions, and overall economic activity), as well as geographic characteristics that may be correlated with both the slave economy and with crime, and current ethnic differences. Policies aiming at reducing structural crime should focus on reducing economic inequality.
This technical note contains figures and tables cited in “Adulthood: Formal Post- Secondary Education,” Chapter 9 of the Inter-American Development Bank’s 2017 Development in the Americas report, Learning Better: Public Policy for Skills Development. (View publication)
Despite governments’ best efforts, many people in Latin America and the Caribbean don’t have the skills they need to thrive. This book looks at what policies work, and don’t work, so that governments can help people learn better and realize their potential throughout their lifetimes. (View publication)
Rapid expansion in the demand for post-secondary education triggered an unprecedented boom of higher education programs in Colombia, possibly deteriorating quality. This paper uses rich administrative data matching school admission information, wages and detailed socio-economic characteristics of the young graduates, and standardized test scores pre- and post-tertiary education, to assess the ... (View publication)
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