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


Year: 2019 HiCN Working Paper No. 292

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 inter- personal 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 other DTO crime and suicides, indicate that economic factors only partially explain the observed relationship between temperature and violence. We argue that noneconomic 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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