Semana SciELO [Violence in Costa Rica: an eminently urban phenomenon]

Gregorio Gimenez (Universidade de Zaragoza) et al.

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Violence in Latin America constitutes a considerable public health problem and have huge social costs. Understanding causes and impacts of violence has become a top priority in order to design violence-prevention programs and to improve living standards. The main aim of the study “Cities and Violence: An Empirical Analysis of the Case of Costa Rica” was to provide a context-specific understanding of violence, paying particular attention to crime in urban areas. We consider this approach especially useful in Latin America, a region notorious for its high homicide rates, where formal and informal urbanization is rather pronounced.

The empirical analysis of our case study, using highly disaggregated data on 473 Costa Rican districts between 2010 and 2013, reveals that:

1. The degree of urban development plays a key role in explaining homicide rates, once we have controlled for a wide range of explanatory variables.
2. This effect is progressive: the greater the urban concentration, the greater the increase in homicide rates.
3. This relationship between violence and urban concentration is not observed in offenses other than homicide.

Further research in this area might seek to apply this model and this analytical methodology to other countries in Central America, as new databases with crime and socioeconomic variables at this level of disaggregation become available. Researchers typically face great difficulties in accessing rich and complete databases in this region of the world. At the same time, “smart policing” which tries to allocate existing resources more wisely, taking into account available information, has become increasingly important in the fight against crime. This approach relies on an intensive use of statistical data and high-quality criminal analysis, which help to identify areas with larger crime concentrations. In this context, the results of the present study show the importance of working with such data and contribute to a wider understanding of causes and consequences of urban violence.


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GIMENEZ, G., et al. Cities and Violence: An Empirical Analysis of the Case of Costa Rica. Dados [online]. 2021, vol.64, no.01 [viewed 27 September 2021]. Available from:

External Links

Beatriz Barrado Researchgate:

Beatriz Barrado:

Dados – Revista de Ciências Sociais:

Gregorio Gimenez ORCID:

Gregorio Gimenez Researchgate:

Gregorio Gimenez:

Katarína Svitková ORCID:

Liubov Tkacheva ORCID:

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Este texto foi originalmente publicado na semana especial SciELO em Perspectiva: Humanas, 2021. Disponível em: