The Effects of Violence on Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Research Agenda

Mar 26, 2021

Violence has profound effects on individuals, communities, and countries. It affects mental health, child development, education outcomes, political participation, and social relations. It transforms formal and informal institutions, the quality of governance, public goods provision, and democracy. Yet, these effects do not impact all people equally: gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, and geographic location can determine people’s risk of being a victim as well as how severe the consequences are that they will endure. When violence systematically affects the most disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, it can reinforce and amplify inequality. Surprisingly, the causal effect of violence on inequality has received scant attention. This background paper hopes to lay the foundations for a research agenda on the effects of violence on inequality in human development in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)—the most violent and most unequal region in the world. By connecting various literatures on the dynamics of violence in LAC with different bodies of work on the effects of violence on individual and collective outcomes, the paper discusses several channels by which violence can perpetuate and amplify various types of inequalities.

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