Mind the gap - save lives? : A regression analysis examining how economic inequality affects violent crime, with a special focus on Latin America

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Uppsala universitet/Nationalekonomiska institutionen

Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis is to study the relationship between economic inequality and violent crime, primarily on a global level but additionally with a special focus on Latin America. Three different regression models are used; a multiple linear regression model with cross- national data on a global level, and a multiple linear regression model with panel data as well as a fixed effects regression model with panel data for Latin America. The data cover the time period 2000-2015 and include 119 countries globally and 18 countries regionally. The reason to why it is interesting to zoom in on Latin America specifically is because the region has both the highest levels of economic inequality and the highest levels of violent crime in the world. Does this mean that the effect of inequality on crime is stronger in Latin America than in the rest of the world? In line with many previous studies on the same topic, the results show a statistically significant positive relationship between economic inequality and violent crime on a global level. The results for the multiple linear regression on Latin America show a similar effect, though not as strong as on a global level and not statistically significant. In the regression performed with fixed effects, the results are more difficult to interpret. To summarize, it can be said that the results indicate (and confirm in the case for the regression on a global level where the null hypothesis can be rejected) that economic inequality is a strong predictor of violent crime. This effect seems to be weaker in Latin America than on a global level. It is suggested that a possible explanation for that could be that the slope curve is diminishing, i.e. when the level of inequality reaches a certain point, the effect on violent crime starts to decrease and thereby shows a weaker relationship. However, this is something that would need to be studied further in future research.

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