WASHINGTON, United States, Tuesday February 7, 2017 – A study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimates the direct annual cost of crime and violence in Latin America and the Caribbean at US$261 billion or 3.55 per cent of GDP – roughly what the region invests on infrastructure.
The Costs of Crime and Violence: New Evidence, New Revelations in Latin America and the Caribbean provides comparable crime costs numbers for 17 countries in the region – including the CARICOM nations of Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago – benchmarking them against six developed countries.
Crime and violence are at near crisis levels in Latin America and the Caribbean. The region accounts for nine per cent of the world’s population but contributes nearly one-third of its homicide victims, making it the most violent region outside of war zones.
Six out of ten robberies in the region involve violence and 90 per cent of murders go unsolved. Its prisons are the most overcrowded in the world, the report adds.
“Crime has reached alarming levels in many countries,” said Ana María Rodríguez, the manager of the IDB’s Institutions for Development Department. “By providing estimates of the costs of violence at the regional, sub-regional, and national levels, the study will help governments and international cooperation agencies better allocate resources, as well as design better policies to control and prevent crime.”
Crime-related costs are, on average, 3.55 percent of GDP in Latin America, compared with 2.75 percent in the US, 2.55 per cent in the UK and 1.34 percent in Germany.
The IDB said if the region brings its crime costs down to the level of developed nations, it could increase its infrastructure investment by 50 per cent.
Costs of violence against women in Latin America and the Caribbean double the world average, and the study points to future avenues for more research on gender violence.