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Americas Quarterly: The Trouble in Naming Latin America's Most Violent City

Americas Quarterly: The Trouble in Naming Latin America's Most Violent City

The truth behind headline-grabbing superlatives is that counting the dead is an inexact science. Debate is ongoing over how and to what purpose we classify the planet’s most dangerous cities. Despite being home to 43 of the world’s 50 most dangerous cities (according to most counts, including those of both SJP and Igarapé) our understanding of violence in Latin America remains incomplete. That’s precisely why more research, more information and, yes, more lists are so vital to understanding and curbing violence and homicide, in the region and beyond.

The challenge of accurately comparing violence across cities is clear from taking a closer look at the differences between SJP and Igarapé Institute data. Decisions about how and where to include cities on a given list depend on the information available, how it is collected, and how it is interpreted. These decisions can have profound effects on policy. Cities featuring prominently at the top of these lists may be downgraded by financial services companies and avoided by tourists. When cities are excluded from (or fall off) the ranking, politicians may avoid prioritizing and investing in homicide prevention and reduction.

This does not mean that listing and comparing violence across borders should be avoided – quite the contrary. But it does mean that anyone hoping to draw conclusions from a given list should understand where those differences in measurement reside, and what they mean. Read more 

Category:News
Country:United States of America
Language:English
Year:2017
Institution:Americas Quarterly
Author:Katherine Aguirre and Robert Muggah
Categories: News
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Marina Castro-MeirellesMarina Castro-Meirelles

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