Essays on the political economy of drug related violence in Mexico

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My doctoral dissertation aims to explain patterns of drug-related violence within Mexican municipalities during president Calderón's administration (2006-2012). It consists of three essays, each of them uncovering a causal relationship in the complex interaction between law enforcement authorities, criminal groups, and civil society. In the first paper, I provide a characterization of drug-related violence and estimate the associated costs of this type of violence on the economic activity. In particular, I propose domestic electricity consumption and night lights luminosity as indicators of local economic activity, and use synthetic controls to evaluate the effect that inter-narco wars have had on local economies. I found that municipalities that observed dramatic spikes in violence between 2000 and 2012 significantly reduced their energy consumption and use of night lights in the years after the turf war started. The second paper estimates the causal effect on drug-related violence of the targeting for arrest of the core leadership of criminal networks. This paper is co-authored with Beatriz Magaloni, Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, and Gabriela Calderón. To estimate effects that are credibly causal, we use a difference-in-differences specification in combination with the synthetic control methodology. We find evidence that captures or killings of drug cartel leaders have exacerbating effects not only on DTO-related violence, but also on homicides that affect the general population. The third paper uncovers political factors affecting the success of government interventions in fighting organized crime at the subnational level. In particular, I assess whether the party affiliation of local authorities have a causal effect on the frequency and intensity of the confiscation of handguns and rifles. The empirical strategy in this paper uses a difference-in-differences specification and a Regression Discontinuity Design on a subsample of local governments elected in close elections. I find that the juxtaposition of a mayor and a governor from the same party as the president's party, Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), is related to an increase in both the number of guns seized in a municipality and the probability of a monthly seizure. Finally, the last section of my dissertation is a technical annex where I describe the construction of a measure of drug-trafficking "connectivity" that I use throughout the dissertation. In particular, I estimate optimal road routes from each municipality to the closest border crossing with the United States. Using optimal routes and drug seizures from previous administrations, I estimate the approximate volume of marijuana, cocaine, opium-heroin, and methamphetamines, that transits through each municipality. The second part of the annex shows that the measure of drug-trafficking "connectivity" is highly predictive of increases in drug-related violence observed during Calderón's administration.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2016
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Robles Peiro, Gustavo Adolfo
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Political Science.
Primary advisor Magaloni, Beatriz
Thesis advisor Magaloni, Beatriz
Thesis advisor Cox, Gary
Thesis advisor Hainmueller, Jens
Thesis advisor Weinstein, Jeremy M
Advisor Cox, Gary
Advisor Hainmueller, Jens
Advisor Weinstein, Jeremy M


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Gustavo Adolfo Robles Peiro.
Note Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
Thesis Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2016 by Gustavo Adolfo Robles Peiro
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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