Political Engagement and Crime Victimization: A Causal Analysis

Forthcoming, Revista Latinoamericana de Opinión Pública

In recent years, research has demonstrated that crime victimization serves as a catalyst to political engagement. However, much of this work has not addressed two key issues: 1) the true causality of this relationship, and 2) how victims’ identities and personal experiences might influence this relationship. This paper tackles these issues by testing the effect of victimization on non-electoral engagement using the Two-City Six-Wave panel survey administered in Brazil between 2002 and 2006. In this context, it finds that the causal relationship between victimization and engagement only exists for participation in political party meetings. We do not see an effect on engagement in political conversations nor participation in neighborhood associations. Furthermore, when exploring the role of individual identity and community context, we see that only men, those who live in safe neighborhoods, and White-Brazilians experience an increase in their engagement. Meanwhile, women, those in unsafe neighborhoods, and Afro-Brazilians do not experience such an increase. Furthermore, those who have not experienced discrimination also increase their participation, while those who have experienced discrimination do not.

Estimating Subnational Crime and Under-reporting Rates with BARP

Studies of crime and violence are often crippled by unreliable data. It is widely known that data regarding crime victimizations are typically inaccurate and underreported. Researchers have attempted to circumvent this issue by relying on homicide statistics, considered the most accurate measure of crime for a variety of reasons. But, this measure too has been shown to have its own biases and does not accurately reflect the nature of all crime rates. This paper attempts to provide a solution to this problem. I illustrate a new method in which researchers can determine the size of the “dark figure,” or gap between officially reported crimes and surveyed victimization rates, for non-homicides. This measure can be leveraged to improve analyses of non-homicidal crimes, and understand the inaccuracies in official crime data. The paper demonstrates an application in Chile and estimates the dark figure for 101 urban communities across the country. I demonstrate victimization surveys reveal some communities to have almost double the amount of crime victimizations than previously indicated by official statistics. I then conduct an initial analysis exploring some of the explanatory factors behind such discrepancies in official and surveyed victimization rates, including the number of police officers allocated to a community, the education-level of the community, and its poverty rate.

Global Crisis, Local Solutions: Subnational Responses to COVID-19 in Brazil and Mexico

With Claire Dunn

The global public health community has promoted social distancing as a central pillar of the COVID-19 response, leading countries to implement stay-at home orders, travel restrictions, and mandatory business closures. The presidents of Brazil and Mexico, however, have bucked public health guidance and refused to take swift, national action. The lack of a centralized response has left local authorities to bear the burden of imposing and enforcing social distancing measures. In this paper, we examine this subnational response and how its variance affects citizen compliance with public health norms. Specifically, we ask two interrelated questions. First, when do governors choose to contradict the president and implement strict social distancing measures? And second, under what conditions are such subnational measures most successful at achieving their goal? We develop a data set of state-level responses to COVID-19 as well as make use of Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Data to answer these questions.