Thursday, September 02, 2004

Interesting Question - Safety in Latin America

Interesting Question - Safety in Latin America

Tyoler Cowen asks

In Mexico City I am relieved to step out of the taxicab and into the street. Cabs are a major venue for robbery and kidnapping. In Rio de Janeiro I am relieved to step out of the street and into the taxicab. Cabs are relatively safe, but a twelve-year old street urchin might knife you in the gut for a dollar.

and proposes that

Could it be that Mexican crime is more closely linked to the drug trade and especially the export of drugs to the U.S.? This increases the optimal size for a criminal gang and might cause robbery and mayhem to be better organized and more capital-intensive. Brazil also appears to have an especially bad educational system, which lowers the average criminal age but also diminishes the relevance of taxis.

I am not quite sure how the educational system relates to relevance of taxis. I do, however, wonder if there is a difference in perception of taxi cab drivers between the two countries. Perhaps in Brasil being a cab driver is a relatively white-collar job, requiring reading and writing to pass the exam and providing an above-slum-living level of income. Thus the drivers are considering themselves professionals and engage in violent crimes more rarely. If the situation is different in Mexico, it could account for the difference in driver behaviour and their proclivities vis-a-vis their passengers. Certainly, in NYC there is a difference between how drivers for limo car companies behave vs. regular cabbies.


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