Mexico Peace Index 2019
The level of peace in Mexico deteriorated 4.9 per cent, costing $268 billion, in the third year of successive deteriorations.
The Mexico Peace Index (MPI) for 2019 provides a comprehensive measure of peacefulness in Mexico and is based on the Global Peace Index (GPI), the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness. In its sixth edition, the MPI outlines the key trends, patterns and drivers of peace, including an analysis through the lens of Positive Peace, which reviews eight societal structures and highlight areas important for government policy.
On a global scale, Mexico has a strong, emerging economy, ranking 15th in the world. But in order for the country to match its economic counterparts, which advance on the GPI rankings, Mexico would need to address its weaker socio-economic areas or pillars of Positive Peace. Mexico already has the second highest potential for improvement in peace in the world, according to research by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
Worst year for peace in Mexico
Peace in Mexico declined by 4.9 per cent in 2018, with ten states improving in peacefulness, while 22 states deteriorated. The major driver behind the deterioration was an upsurge in the homicide rate, which increased by 14 per cent. Mexico’s 2018 homicide rate reached historically high levels, at 27 deaths per 100,000 people, or over 34,000 victims. This level of violence surpasses the prior peak of 2011. The rise in the homicide rate in 2018 was accompanied by a substantial increase in the rate of gun violence, which rose by 16 percent, with 24 of the 32 states reporting escalating rates of firearms crimes.
A weak justice system
Mexico continues to underinvest in its criminal justice system, given the high level of violence. The country spends the least of 33 countries from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on its police and justice system, as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), and less than half of other Latin American countries. Mexican states had a median of 110 public security officials per 100,000 people in 2017, underscoring the lack of justice system capacity. The most recent data shows that Mexico has only 3.5 judges and magistrates per 100,000 people, significantly below the global average of 16. This deficit in judges means that fewer cases go before the bench and contributes to the low conviction rates.
Economic impact of violence
The economic impact of violence rose by ten percent in 2018, reaching 5.16 trillion pesos (US$268 billion), which is equivalent to 24 per cent of the country’s GDP. On a per person basis, the economic impact of violence was 41,181 pesos, more than five times the average monthly salary of a Mexican worker. Furthermore, this figure varies considerably from state to state, ranging from 10,808 pesos in Yucatán to 83,167 pesos in Colima.
The lost opportunity cost is high: reducing violence throughout Mexico to the levels of the five most peaceful states would result in a peace dividend of 2.5 trillion pesos per year, or ten trillion pesos over a four-year period. This would unleash an additional economic value equivalent to 11 percent of Mexico’s 2018 GDP, or more than 11 times what the federal government currently spends on domestic security and justice.
Yucatan was once again the most peaceful state in Mexico, followed by Campeche, Tlaxcala, Chiapas and Hidalgo. However, all five of these states recorded an increase in their homicide rate last year, consistent with the national trend. Three of the five – Tlaxcala, Chiapas and Hidalgo – had deteriorating MPI scores in 2018, indicating that even the most peaceful parts of the country have been affected by the rise in violence.
The largest improvement occurred in Baja California Sur, which improved its ranking by seven places, from 32 in 2017 to 25 in 2018. Baja California Sur has reduced its homicide rate by 76 per cent, from 105 to 26 per 100,000 people. Baja California Sur was the only state in the country to become more peaceful in every indicator.
In the three states that improved the most in the 2019 MPI – Baja California Sur, Sinaloa and Sonora – governments used programs specifically designed to target local challenges. All of these programs incorporated inter-government agencies in collaboration with businesses and the community.
Mexico's least peaceful states
Baja California ranked as Mexico’s least peaceful state for the first time in 2018, followed by Guerrero, Colima, Quintana Roo, and Chihuahua. All five of the least peaceful states deteriorated in 2018. Geographically, these states span the country, with Guerrero, Colima and Baja California along the Pacific Coast, Quintana Roo on the Caribbean Sea, and Chihuahua on the border with the United States. All five states score poorly across nearly all indicators.
Positive Peace in Mexico
IEP’s analysis of the relationships between violence and the factors that sustain peace, known as Positive Peace, finds that four of the eight pillars are weak and deteriorating in Mexico. The continuing rise in violence indicates that a much broader peacebuilding strategy is needed to address the causes as well as the symptoms of lawlessness.
A Positive Peace analysis finds that weak scores in well-functioning government, low levels of corruption and free flow of information have trapped Mexico’s social system in a cycle of violence. Not only are these pillars weak when compared to the rest of the world or Latin America, but they are also deteriorating, which is of considerable concern.