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Crime drop in Chile: Searching for causes and mechanisms

7 March 2012

Hugo Soto

This research is being funded by the Chilean government. Since the first victimisation survey was carried out in 2003, a steady decline in victimisation rates has been seen in Chile. Between 2003 and 2009, the proportion of households in which any member had been the victim of offences during a 12 months period fell by nearly 22%. Concerning specific offences, there were even greater declines: robbery fell by 33.7%, snatching 35.6%, burglary 34.6% and non-violent stealing by 29.5%, according to the Chilean national crime survey – ENUSC.

Despite the sharp drop in Chilean victimization rates, there are not explanations for that phenomenon. Most of Chilean criminological researches focus on “the causes of criminality”, and their links with drugs consumption or their spatial distribution around some critical neighborhoods, while the rest are attempts of assessing and improving the justice system effectiveness.

In this context, my doctoral research will approach Chilean victimization trends and will aim test feasible hypothesis to explain the victimization drop. My main theoretical framework for analyzing data will be the environmental criminology, routine activity and rational choice theories as well as situational crime prevention perspective.  Particularly, I am interested on gauge the validity for Chilean context of Security Hypothesis (Farrell et. al.,2008)  which has been formulated to explain crime drop in industrialised countries. My MRes project has already found evidence to support the validity of Security Hypothesis to analysing car crime in Chile.