Do remittances lower crime in Mexico?

Here is a new paper by Steve Brito, Ana Corbacho, and Rene Osorio Rivas, it seems the answer is yes:

This working paper studies the effect of remittances from the United States on crime rates in Mexico. The topic is examined using municipal-level data on the percent of household receiving remittances and homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Remittances are found to be associated with a decrease in homicide rates. Every 1 percent increase in the number of households receiving remittances reduces the homicide rate by 0.05 percent. Other types of crimes are analyzed, revealing a reduction in street robbery of 0.19 percent for every 1 percent increase in households receiving remittances. This decrease is also observed using a state-level panel in another specification. The mechanisms of transmission could be related to an income effect or an incapacitation effect of remittances increasing education, opening job opportunities, and/or reducing the amount of time available to engage in criminal activities.

For the pointer I thank Axayacatl Maqueda.  Here is a Spanish-language discussion of the work.


What about criminals crossing the border?

We pay cash for any new or used criminal you can push, pull, or drag across our border.

Seems like the expected effect when sending young men out of country. (change the demographics, change the social statistic)

Well, though Mexican immigrants are not exactly typical in their male to female ratio, it isn't as if it is only men going to the U.S. - 'Mexican immigrant men outnumbered women in 2011.

Of all Mexican immigrants residing in the United States in 2011, 53 percent were men and 47 percent women. By contrast, gender distributions were more balanced among the native born and overall foreign born (about 49 percent male and 51 percent female for both groups).'

I would think having younger residents leave would also have a positive effect.

Your population is broader than the study's target and thus masks the effect. To illustrate, What percentage of women immigrants are sending home remittances? Towns with a higher percentage of remittances should expect to have a greater imbalance of male emigrants.

'Towns with a higher percentage of remittances should expect to have a greater imbalance of male emigrants.'

Why? In many other cases of immigration, women are notably more reliable as a source of remitted income for other family members who remained in their native land.

Admittedly, as noted in that study, the number of Mexican born workers (which would certainly seem to cover exactly the population under discussion) was 4.4 million males, and 2.3 million females - which certainly indicates that a certain percentage of women are not working (taking into account that 53-47 percent split).

However, one can reasonably assume that in such cases where the woman is not employed, the majority are connected to Mexican born male workers - and again, in such pairings, it is further reasonable to assume that many of those women are fairly diligent in ensuring remittances reach home.

Yeah. Probably. A little.

So we should double the number of Mexicans in the United States (and who is so vulgar as to care about their legal status?) so the homicide rate in Mexico can fall from 25 per 100,000 to 22.5 per 100,000 (and we just won't ask about what happens to the homicide rate here, or Bryan Caplan and Luis Gutierrez will blow a gasket).

If you're so concerned about the homicide rate in the US, then I suggest opposing guns.

Rumour has it, when technology provides an easier means of doing things, then the outcomes of that thing will rise.

For example, 20 years ago I might have struggled to handwrite 2 letters a day. Of course, I could have used a typewriter or even an early desktop computer, but even then, postage costs could easily have become prohibitive. Now, it is more accessible and easier to write letters, so people write more of them. Technology advanced, and now the aggregate quantity (but surely not average quality) of written communications has increased.

Likewise with guns. People kill people. Guns make it easier. If you want to reduce homicides, reduces access to guns. Simple.

As for written communications, I think a general perspective in a free country which strives towards freedom of speech is one where we should celebrate the increased ease of access to citizens to engage in written communication, whether to write drivel, serious stuff, or to updates loved ones (and everyone else in their network) as to their every bowel movement.

If you’re so concerned about the homicide rate in the US, then I suggest opposing guns.

Because I am not interested in confiscating anyone else's property and I've seen nothing to indicate that amendments to firearms regulation will have a detectable effect on the homicide rate. New York City engineered a 75% decrease in its homicide rate. They did not manage that by confiscating pistols on Staten Island.

So all we need to do to reduce violent crime further is do what NYC did in the 90s, and keep doing it more and more and watch the crime rate fall to near zero.

Raise prices so all the poor people move away and have cops imprison those who stay on charges of window breaking?

I haven't committed a homicide. Why do you want to take my gun from me? I like it very much and would miss it alot. It would make my daughter very sad, too, since we enjoy our time together shooting cans and such.

@COPper - that's a cop out. You don't see the Bayesian fallacy in what you wrote?

This is altogether too consistent with a line of reasoning that I find distasteful for a number of reasons, namely the ones which fail to account for the fact that social dysfunction arising from historical BS can be transmitted over generations ... but wouldn't families with members who go abroad to earn money to remit be more likely to be those same families with an internal culture of working hard rather than turning to crime?

That having been said, when there are no jobs, I have a hard time holding it too much against very poor people who don't think it to be so evil to steal from people who spent most of their time in gated mansions or to sell goods and services which have been classified as illicit (namely illicit drugs and prostitution) by demanding busybodies who share a common feature with proponents of shari'a, in that these self righteous persons think they have the right to impose their ways on 100% of everyone else.

Which leads me to point to the logic of John Locke's letters on toleration.

More to the point, however, is that if we didn't have prostitution and the classification of substances as illicit on the basis of moralizing criteria which are not consistent with much of any careful social sciences analysis, then we wouldn't have most of these crimes, and probably it would be easier to untangle things like the relationship between remittances and crime in Mexico.

By 'steal' do you mean 'armed robbery'?

If you don't fight the corruption, it doesn't really matter what else you do.

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