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Economic and Non-Economic Factors in Violence: Evidence from Organized Crime, Suicides and Climate in Mexico

Ceren Baysan, Marshall Burke, Felipe González, Solomon Hsiang, Edward Miguel

NBER Working Paper No. 24897
Issued in August 2018
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Environment and Energy Economics

Organized intergroup violence is almost universally modeled as a calculated act motivated by economic factors. In contrast, it is generally assumed that non-economic factors, such as an individual's emotional state, play a role in many types of interpersonal violence, such as "crimes of passion." We ask whether economic or non-economic factors better explain the well-established relationship between temperature and violence in a unique context where intergroup killings by drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs) and "normal" interpersonal homicides are separately documented. A constellation of evidence, including the limited influence of a cash transfer program as well as comparison with both non-violent DTO crime and suicides, indicate that economic factors only partially explain the observed relationship between temperature and violence. We argue that non-economic psychological and physiological factors that are affected by temperature, modeled here as a "taste for violence," likely play an important role in causing both interpersonal and intergroup violence.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24897

 
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