Mexico’s five consecutive years of peace gains slowed significantly in 2015, with the past year seeing just a 0.3% improvement, the smallest increment since 2011, according to new research from the Institute for Economics and Peace.
The Mexico Peace Index provides a comprehensive assessment of peace in Mexico over the past 13 years, including a breakdown of the levels of peacefulness within Mexico’s 32 states; an in-depth analysis of disappearances within Mexico; an assessment of the cost of violence on the country’s economy; and an analysis of how higher levels of peace can be brought about.
Twenty-five of the 32 states in Mexico are more peaceful than they were in 2011, with rates of violent crime, homicide and organized down by almost 30% for the period from 2011 and 2015. This means that for an estimated 85% of Mexicans, where they live is more peaceful than four years ago.
Last year, Mexico saw a 10% decrease in the rate of violent crimes and 8% decrease in the rate of organized crime. However, homicides are on the rise: 2015 saw a 6.3% increase in the number of people killed between 2014 and 2015.
The research also identified a worrying trend towards greater impunity, with the rate of convictions for homicide dramatically deteriorating since 2007. In that year, there were four convictions for every five cases of murder, but by 2013 there was only one conviction for every five cases.
There is also a gap between the number of homicides recoded by hospitals, and those recorded by police: By comparing the homicide numbers recorded by police to death certificates from hospitals, it is estimated that in 11 states, 20% of homicides are not being investigated.
Investments in the effective implementation of judicial reforms, improvements to data collection and lowering of levels of corruption are key to social and economic gains.
"Mexico has an opportunity to reach higher levels of peace, but the country needs to confront two fundamental problems: the administration of justice and corruption. Improvements will have direct benefits given that the states with the lowest levels of peace are the states where corruption levels are perceived to be the greatest," said Patricia de Obeso, Manager of IEP in Mexico
The five most peaceful states in 2015 are: Hidalgo and Yucatan, followed by Veracruz, Tlaxcala and San Luis Potosi, while the least peaceful states are Guerrero, Sinaloa, Morelos, Baja California and Baja California Sur.
COST OF VIOLENCE
The economic impact of violence in 2015 was 2.12 trillion pesos (US $134 billion), the equivalent to 13% of Mexico's GDP. This corresponds to 17.525 pesos per person, roughly equal to two months' salary of an average Mexican worker.
There is great potential for the country to further improve levels of peace. In comparison to countries with similar levels of violence, Mexico benefits from the second highest surplus of Positive Peace in the world, with relatively high scores in the domains of sound business environment, equitable distribution of resources, and good relations with neighboring countries. Investing in improving the judicial system and lowering levels of corruption will lead to improvements in peacefulness which will reap social and economic rewards.
The report stresses the need for government bodies to improve the collection of accurate data. The current reliability of official crime statistics in Mexico is a concern: 90% of some crimes are not reported (referred to in Mexico as cifra negra); there is a 20% discrepancy in 11 states between the numbers of homicides registered by Mexico’s Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP) compared to those recorded in death certificates by National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI); and the data published by the national registry for missing persons that lists over 26,000 people as disappeared since 2007 who remain missing, a figure considered to vastly underestimate the problem.
The Mexico Peace Index is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to promoting a better understanding of the social and economic factors that develop a more peaceful society. The 2016 Mexico Peace Index is the third edition of the Index, with the first released in 2013.
The research aims to inform a strategic discussion among policymakers, researchers, business leaders and the general public on how peace can be brought about.
The Mexico Peace Index uses seven indicators to analyze peacefulness in Mexico’s 32 states. They are: homicide rates, violent crimes, weapons crime, detention without a sentence, police funding, efficiency of the justice system, and the level of organized crime.
The analysis takes into account multiple sources, public surveys, and methodological guidance from an expert panel, adjusting official data to account for underreporting. The research was conducted with guidance from institutions including CIDE, Mexico Evalúa, INEGI, IMCO, Causa en Comun, Stanford University, Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano, and Jurimetria.
Learn more about our Mexico Peace Index methodology
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Peacefulness in Mexico has improved 13.5 percent over the past five years: 2011 to 2015. However, this period of recovery comes after six consecutive years of deterioration in peace. We take a look at the history of peace in Mexico - from the height of the drug war to 2015.
At least 26,000 people have gone missing in Mexico, and remain missing, in the last eight years. These are conservative estimates.
Vision of Humanity is an initiative of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). IEP have offices in New York and Sydney. For more specific inquiries related to the peace indexes and research, please contact IEP directly.