Mexico Peace Index 2020

The level of peace in Mexico deteriorated 4.3 per cent in 2019, costing $238 billion, in the fourth year of successive deteriorations.

The Mexico Peace Index (MPI) for 2020 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 seventh 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.

Mexico reports the lowest level of domestic security and justice spending of all of the 33 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), at 0.7 percent of GDP. Consequently, Mexico has found it difficult to build sufficient capacity in its judicial system to meet the country’s needs. To effectively address violence, Mexico must improve and increase its spending on the criminal justice system.

Snapshot of peace in Mexico

Mexico’s peacefulness deteriorated by 4.3 percent in 2019, marking the fourth successive year of decline. The deterioration was driven by substantial increases in criminal activity, with the rate of organized crime rising by 24.3 percent. Consequently, 23 of the 32 states deteriorated in peacefulness, while only nine improved. However, the rate of increase in homicide slowed significantly compared to the prior year, increasing by only 1.4 percent.

A weak justice system

Mexico reports the lowest level of domestic security and justice spending of all of the 33 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), at 0.7 percent of GDP. Consequently, Mexico has found it difficult to build sufficient capacity in its judicial system to meet the country’s needs. To effectively address violence, Mexico must improve and increase its spending on the criminal justice system. For instance, Mexico averages 3.6 judges and magistrates per 100,000 people, four times fewer than the global average. This deficit limits the capacity of the judicial system to process cases, leading to high impunity rates.

Economic impact of violence

The economic impact of violence in Mexico was estimated to be 4.57 trillion pesos (US$238 billion) in 2019, equivalent to 21.3 percent of Mexico’s GDP. The total economic impact fell 0.3 percent compared to the prior year, but the decline was driven by reductions in spending on domestic security and the criminal justice system. The economic impact of homicide, organized crime, military spending and violent assault continued to increase.

In 2019, the economic impact of violence was eight times higher than public expenditure on health and six times higher than spending on education. On a per capita basis, the economic impact of violence was 36,129 pesos, approximately five times the average monthly salary in Mexico.

If Mexico were to reduce its homicide rate by ten percent – an achievable target – the economic impact of homicide would fall by 219 billion pesos. This reduction would be equivalent to four times what the government spent on science, technology and innovation in 2019.

Improvements & Five Year Trend

In 2019, Yucatán was the most peaceful state in Mexico for the third consecutive year, followed by Tlaxcala, Chiapas, Campeche and Nayarit. However, three of the five most peaceful – Yucatán, Tlaxcala and Campeche – recorded a deterioration in their MPI scores in 2019, highlighting how widespread the breakdown in peace has been.

The largest improvements over the last five years occurred in Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Yucatán and Chiapas. All but Tamaulipas recorded improvements in their homicide rates, while all five states improved their detention without a sentence and organized crime scores. Sinaloa and Tamaulipas improved so much that they are no longer ranked amongst the five least peaceful states.

Deteriorations & Five Year Trend

Baja California remained Mexico’s least peaceful state in 2019, followed by Colima, Quintana Roo, Chihuahua and Guanajuato. Four of the five – Baja California, Colima, Chihuahua and Guanajuato – had homicide rates above 49 deaths per 100,000 people, which is considered extreme. In 2019, all five of the least peaceful states recorded deteriorations in their overall scores.

The largest deteriorations over the last five years occurred in Colima, Baja California, Guanajuato, Chihuahua and Quintana Roo. These five states all have rising homicide rates, especially Colima, which has recorded the highest homicide rate in Mexico since 2016. All five states have also recorded increases in organized crime activity.

Dynamics of Violence in Mexico

The report analyzes the different dynamics driving the high levels of violence across the country. Violence can be broken down into four different categories, each of which requires a different policy response:

  1. Political violence
  2. Opportunistic violence, such as extortion and robbery
  3. Interpersonal violence, such as assault, sexual assault and violence in the family
  4. Cartel conflict, characterized by high levels of homicide, drug-trade related crime and armed conflict between criminal groups.

Positive Peace in Mexico

Providing Mexico can tackle its under investment in the criminal justice system, address corruption and improve its institutions, the country has excellent prospects for substantial improvements in peace. Globally, Mexico ranks 67th out of 163 countries in the Positive Peace Index and ranks fifth in Central America and the Caribbean.

Positive Peace is a measure of the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies, Mexico’s Positive Peace results are considerably stronger than its ranking on the Global Peace Index, indicating its capacity to improve.

Mexico recorded substantial progress in Free Flow of Information and Sound Business Environment over the past decade. However, the country saw large deteriorations in Low Levels of Corruption and Well-Functioning Government. The average state score for Low Levels of Corruption deteriorated by 16 percent for the four years up to 2018, although national indicators did record slight improvements in 2019.

Mexico Peace Index

Press Release

Mexico Peace Index

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