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Special Lecture:”Violent Crime as a Development Challenge”

On November 23, the TGU Center for Positive/Empirical Analysis of Political Economy and Waseda Institute of Political Economy (WINPEC) cosponsored a seminar by Dr. Alberto Diaz, senior fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Dr. Diaz is a distinguished scholar specializing in comparative politics, especially in Latin America, and political economy, and has produced many important publications about authoritarianism, clientelism, and poverty alleviation. He gave a presentation on their ongoing project on political violence, in collaboration with Dr. Beatriz Magaloni, Associate Professor of Stanford University, an issue faced by many developing countries around the world.

Dr. Diaz started the seminar by explaining that violent crime, including various physical threats ranging from homicide, kidnappings, gunfights and extortion to other forms of human rights abuse, is a global development challenge which had been overseen by previous research. Violent crimes particularly effect poor people in urban areas and pose a significant challenge to economic development.

The lecture primarily focused on the cases of Mexico and Brazil. Employing multiple research methodologies, the research showed that (1) youth and women have increasingly become a target of violent crime, (2) since the mid-2000s, crime has gotten more violent as a consequence of intensified conflicts between drug trafficking organizations and the states and between those organizations which battled for leadership, and (3) some drug cartels seek to cooperate with local communities by providing assistance. As for the case of Brazil, he presented research findings on the effect of police reform, which aimed at eliminating criminal groups from slum areas in Rio de Janeiro, on reduction on violent crime.

The seminar by Dr. Diaz provided participants an invaluable opportunity to learn that the increase in violent crime has had a significant impact on economy and society in developing countries, as well as that the governments in those countries have implemented new policy measures to tackle with spreading violence.

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