More Money, More Crime: Prosperity and Rising Crime in Latin America
While worldwide crime is declining overall, criminality in Latin America has reached unprecedented levels that have ushered in social unrest and political turmoil. Despite major political and economic gains, crime has increased in every Latin American country over the past 25 years, currently making this region the most crime-ridden and violent in the world.
Over the past two decades, Latin America has enjoyed economic growth, poverty and inequality reduction, rising consumer demand, and spreading democracy, but it also endured a dramatic outbreak of violence and property crimes. In More Money, More Crime, Marcelo Bergman argues that prosperity enhanced demand for stolen and illicit goods supplied by illegal rackets. Crime surged as weak states and outdated criminal justice systems could not meet the challenge posed by new profitably criminal enterprises. Based on large-scale data sets, including surveys from inmates and victims, Bergman analyzes the development of crime as a business in the region, and the inability-and at times complicity-of state agencies and officers to successfully contain it. While organized crime has grown, Latin American governments have lacked the social vision to promote sustainable upward mobility, and have failed to improve the technical capacities of law enforcement agencies to deter criminality. The weak state responses have only further entrenched the influence of criminal groups making them all the more difficult to dismantle.
More Money, More Crime is a sobering study that foresees a continued rise in violence while prosperity increases unless governments develop appropriate responses to crime and promote genuine social inclusion.