HomeNewsBriefMexico Violence Linked to Youth Unemployment: Report
BRIEF

Mexico Violence Linked to Youth Unemployment: Report

MEXICO / 25 JAN 2016 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

A new World Bank report states there is a correlation between homicide rates and the number of unemployed male youths during the apex of Mexico's drug war, a telling reminder that improving public security requires more than just criminal justice reform. 

The recently released report (pdf) examines the risks facing Latin America's "ninis," a term used to describe youth who are neither in school nor active in the work force. Using data from Mexico's national employment surveys, the study concludes that there is no correlation between the amount of ninis and homicide rates from 1995-2013.

But there is a positive and significant correlation, the study finds, between the rate of ninis and the number of murders between 2008 and 2013, when violence related to Mexico's drug war reached its peak. (See graph below) The correlation grows stronger when only Mexican border states are considered, the focal point for cartel violence in the late 2000s and early 2010s. 

SEE ALSO: Juarez After the War

16-01-20-Mexico-Ninis-Violence

InSight Crime Analysis

When discussing how to improve public security in Mexico -- and, indeed, the rest of Latin America -- the conversation tends to center on a few key topics, such as police reform and combating criminal groups. The World Bank study cautions against taking such a myopic approach to addressing patterns of violence.

"The report only reinforces what we already know, which is that violence is not a problem of law enforcement, it is a problem of opportunity," Viridiana Rios, a research fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC, told InSight Crime. 

The lack of opportunities driving violence can include, but is not necessarily limited to, a shortage of jobs. According to Rios, Mexico actually has a lower unemployment rate than the United States, Canada, and Spain. But the scholar suggests that the job opportunities for Mexico's poor do not carry the promise of economic mobility that ambitious young people seek. As a result, she says, assertive young people who find themselves at the lower end of the economic spectrum are more likely to turn to drug trafficking, where potential earnings are nearly limitless. 

"When you look at the profile of drug traffickers... they are ambitious young people that wouldn't take [just] any job," Rios said. "You need to offer them jobs that allow people to move up the social hierarchy. And that is what we are missing."

While it is the responsibility of the criminal justice system to provide public security, it is not the only government sector that plays a role. Carrying out educational reforms, for instance, so that more youths from Mexico's working class are well-positioned upon entering the work force would not only cause Mexico's nini population to drop, it could lead to less violence and crime. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 29 APR 2011

Benjamin Arellano Felix, alias "El Señor," a leader of Mexico's Tijuana Cartel, has been extradited to the…

COLOMBIA / 13 AUG 2016

The recent murder of a beauty pageant director in Mexico draws attention to the long history of star-crossed romantic pairings…

MEXICO / 24 FEB 2011

In a press conference on Wednesday that seemed more designed to placate United States' calls for justice in the murder…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Dirty Money and Tren de Aragua

29 OCT 2021

InSight Crime was delighted to support investigative reporting in the Americas through a workshop with our friends at Connectas, a non-profit journalism initiative that facilitates collaboration…