Mexico (Brazil) fact of the day (“two of the three are safe”)

Monterrey’s homicide rate is about 6 per 100,000 people, double the rate five years ago, but far less than the national average of 18, or Brazil’s rate of about 25.

Here is more, mostly about some good economic times in Mexico.


And yet Brazil is improving rapidly, with favelas in Rio being pacified and effective programs lifting people out of poverty, whereas Monterrey is heading downhill like a rollercoaster.

A frozen snapshot doesn't tell you much when the status quo is rapidly evolving.

Homicide data (wikipedia) does show that Brazil's getting safer. But Mexico (surprisingly) seems to be as bad as it was circa 2000

Brazil: 27 28 28 29 27 27 26 25 22
Mexico:14 14 13 10 11 11 11 10 12 15

Yet Gapminder seems to show the opposite trend (admittedly the data only goes as far as 2005):

Year: 1982 - 2005
Brazil: 14 15 16 16 16 17 17 20 22 21 19 20 20 23 24 24 24 24 25 26 27 27 25 24
Mexico: 24 24 21 24 25 25 23 22 21 21 22 21 20 19 17 16 16 14 12 11 11 10 9.5 9.9

For you tyler: markets in everything, ebay reputation edition

Well, you can always stratify data to find pockets safer than the average.

18 and 25 both seem unsafe enough to me.

So I think I win the prize for my Cowen mind-reading, but, I do agree that Mexico it's a stretch to call Mexico safe, especially since that average of 18 generally involves some very dangerous pockets.

For example, the murder rate in El Paso, Texas is 2 per 100,000 and right across the border in Jaurez the rate is over 100 times higher at 239. I don't think most Americans should or would feel safe traveling in Jaurez. No matter how you score it, a murder rate 15x that of Newark, NJ means it's not safe for American tourists.

Of course, gun control freaks will be happy to see the signs on the border warning those violent gun nuts from El Paso to keep their guns at home. Mexicans enjoy strict gun control and with capital punishment in Mexico abolished in 2005 they also enjoy a much more civilized and humane society than can be found across the border in Texas.

It's funny that when I mention the advantages of living in Texas including a much higher standard of living, a lot of SWPL's will tell me "but I would never want to live in Texas". My response is that if you don't like the liberal, er, open gun laws and capital punishment, you can always take a break from the right-wing conservatives by hopping across the border to Mexico which is even more progressive than New York City on both counts.

Here are the murder rates with some U.S. cities for comparison (FBI 2009):

New Orleans, LA.......52
Detroit, MI (model great society city).......40
Rio de Janero.......36
Newark, NJ.......29
Oakland, CA.......26

Brazil overall.......25
Washington DC.......24
Mexico overall.......18

Iraq overall (2004).......7.3
US overall.......5

New York, NY.......6
El Paso, TX.......2
Plano, TX.......1


Wouldn't the average including some very dangerous pockets imply that most of the country outside of them is relatively safe? Mexico is already the country with the most Americans living in it and also visiting it. Outside of the pockets of violence and in the places that I think Tyler likes in Mexico, my impression is that they tend to be relatively safe, aside from the risk of being pickpocketed or stolen from. This further dissection might also be true of Brazil.

Mexico: still twice as rich as China!

People should always keep in mind Tyler's essay on low-hanging fruit -- it's probably the most important factor to consider when thinking about these developing countries. Each additional dollar of PPP GDP per capita is a little harder to produce.

Mexico's GDP (PPP) per capita is still 30-40% above Brazil's. That is definitely a reason Brazil has been growing so much.

According to this (,0.php) traveling to Brazil is not that cheap especially when compared to Mexico. Maybe that is why Brazil only gets 1/4 of the # of turists Mexico gets. As an example of the cost difference, tt says there that Brazil's Big Mac Index is about two times of Mexico's (US$ 5,3 compared to US$ 2,6).

It's interesting how a lower PPP GDP/cap country still is more expensive to live in.

The violence in Mexico that people are concerned about is instrumental and terrorist in nature, with large negative externalities on society at large, whereas the violence in Brazil is random.

The impact of 9/11 can't be naively measured by the death-toll either, which in and of itself is only a tiny fraction of the murders commited in 2001.

Is random violence less worry-some than targeted violence? Not always. Sometimes it is nice to know what will get you killed and what won't.

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