The politics of criminal violence
- This thesis comprises three papers on the politics of criminal violence. (1) Prosperity and Violence: An Empirical Investigation. I provide an empirical test of the proposition that stateless societies face a trade-off between prosperity and peace. This proposition holds that, in the absence of state enforcement of property rights, an increase in productivity generates violence. The "stateless society" I consider comprises participants in the market for illicit drugs in Venezuela. Involvement in illegal activity bars traffickers from using the state to adjudicate property disputes, but the Venezuelan government nevertheless collects data on their behavior (data generally unavailable for stateless societies). I then exploit a shock to the efficiency of production: a policy change in a neighboring country, Colombia, that increased demand for Venezuelan trafficking routes. For twenty years prior to the policy change, violence trends along trafficking routes were parallel to trends elsewhere in the country; after the policy change, violence increased significantly more along trafficking routes. Using an original data set, I estimate the difference-in-differences as approximately 10 violent deaths per 100,000, a magnitude similar to the total violent death rate prior to the policy change. A second set of results, using data on victim age, suggests that gang conflict accounted for a higher proportion of violent deaths after the policy change than before. Together with qualitative accounts, I interpret these findings as evidence in favor of the longstanding notion that, without Leviathan, prosperity creates violence. (2) Electoral Origins of an Oligopoly of Violence. Why do so many states fail to monopolize the use of physical force within their territories? I consider the role of political accountability in perpetuating oligopolies of violence in democracies. I propose that one of the drivers of criminal violence---the growth of illegal markets---also makes it difficult for voters to use violent crime rates as a basis for judging elected politicians. Voters then ignore violent crime at the ballot box---leading politicians to ignore it, too. I formalize this intuition and then find empirical evidence for it in the context of violent crime in Latin America, where criminal homicide has made some democracies more deadly than contemporary Iraq. The intensification of counternarcotics operations in Colombia increased drug trafficking and violence in neighboring Venezuela, as trafficking and criminal organizations moved across the border. Using an original data set, I then estimate how voter behavior changed as the influence of events in Colombia strengthened. Prior to the Colombian crackdown, Venezuelan voters punished (or rewarded) political incumbents for changes in local homicide incidence. Yet during the Colombian crackdown, voters largely stopped responding to homicide outcomes, instead reelecting incumbents even as homicide rates soared. (3) Enforcement and Violence in Illegal Markets. An important question in political economy concerns the determinants of violence in illegal markets. In this paper, I consider how changes in a country's legal and institutional environment affect market-based violence. I first describe the development of the drug trafficking market in Venezuela, which in recent years has served as the departure point for approximately one-fourth of South American cocaine. I then focus on the consequences of a particular legal change---a reform of the penal code---for violence in narcotics markets in Venezuela. Using daily data from Venezuela's national death registry, I find that the incidence of violent death jumped by about 27% after the new penal code came into effect (on July 1, 1999)---from about 26 violent deaths per 100,000 to about 33 per 100,000. In a difference-in-differences framework, I also find that the increase in violent death rates around July 1, 1999 was larger (in absolute and relative terms) in municipalities more exposed to drug trafficking than elsewhere in the country. The high-frequency (daily) data are essential to estimating the size of this jump: Because the violent death rate was already rising prior to the implementation of the new penal code, annual or even monthly data would make it difficult to isolate changes plausibly connected to the reform. Using data from the qualitative literature, I discuss three possible mechanisms linking the reform to an increase in violence.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Department of Political Science.
|Haber, Stephen H, 1957-
|Haber, Stephen H, 1957-
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
- © 2016 by Dorothy Kronick
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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