Crime and Violence

Mexico ranks 133rd out of 162 countries on Global Peace Index

Screenshot 2013-12-14 17.26.2312/14/13 — The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) released its annual Global Peace Index (GPI), a report ranking countries’ level of peace worldwide in which it found that Mexico ranks 133 of 162 countries profiled for 2013. In the Western Hemisphere, only Colombia (147) ranks worse than Mexico, although Honduras (123) and Venezuela (128), among a number of other Central American countries, scored just slightly better. Meanwhile the United States ranks 99, while Canada sits in the top 10 most peaceful countries at number 8. Since IEP began publishing the GPI, Mexico has steadily fallen from its place in 2008 (88), though it fared barely better this year than it did in 2012 (134).

The index ranks a country’s level of peace based on 22 qualitative and quantitative factors, with a score of 1 being the most peaceful and 5 being the least. Grouping the major variables, the GPI found that Mexico had an average militarization score of 2.0 out of 5, society and security of 3.7, and domestic and international conflict of 2.6, compared to its 2008 averages of 1.9, 3.3, and 1.6, respectively. The individual factors that scored the worst were homicides, violent crime, and deaths from internal conflict; those scoring the best possible were weapons imports and exports, armed services personnel, displaced people, neighboring country relations, conflicts fought, and deaths from external conflict. Overall, the IEP finds that the level of peace in Mexico has decreased by 27.5% since 2003.

Source: Institute for Economics and Peace.
Source: Institute for Economics and Peace.

The IEP also released for the first time the Mexico Peace Index (MPI), which is the third publication in its series of country-specific indices, joining the United States and United Kingdom. The MPI includes a 96-page write up on the findings that breaks down Mexico’s trends in level of peace by state from 2003 – 2012. Among the states, Campeche is currently ranked as the most peaceful, followed by Querétaro, Hidalgo, Yucatán, and Baja California Sur; meanwhile Morelos is considered the least peaceful state, followed by Guerrero, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Quintana Roo. Oaxaca and Chiapas have seen the biggest improvement in their levels of peace from 2003 to 2012, moving up 23 places and 18 places, respectively, during those ten years. Meanwhile, the MPI finds that the Northern border region is the least peaceful, while the Eastern region is the most. Out of 32 Mexican states, the Border States rank from most peaceful to least peaceful with Sonora sitting at 16 out of 32; Tamaulipas, 19; Coahuila, 22; Nuevo León, 26; Baja California, 27; and Chihuahua, 29. When comparing each state’s ranking by category, the report states, “there is a strong relationship between lack of peacefulness and high homicide, weapons crime, and violent crime rates. Moreover,” it continues, “the least peaceful states have high levels of justice system inefficiency, which represents the percentage of homicides that go unpunished.”

Among other focus areas, the MPI also looks at the strain that violence—a factor significantly affecting Mexico’s peacefulness—places on the Mexican economy. The report finds that the economic impact of violence costs nearly $4.4 trillion pesos ($334 billion USD), which it calculates in three ways: “the expenditure borne by governments to maintain law and order through the police, justice, and the prison system, as well as dealing with the direct consequences of violence;” “the lost productivity from crime;” and “the job creation effects that come from the stimulus related to improving the first and second categories.” The MPI points out that the cost of violence is equivalent to a staggering 27.7% of the Mexican economy.

Despite Mexico’s low ranking on the Global Peace Index and some of the poor scores around the states, the Mexico Peace Index highlights the potential Mexico has for notable improvements in its level of peace. Pointing to Mexico’s strengths in government effectiveness (according to the World Bank), a growing economy and middle class, and above average levels of human capital, the MPI finds the “country is unique in that its peace score is well below its institutional capacity, which suggests that it should be experiencing much higher levels of peace.” The report acknowledges that Mexico faces serious hurdles to overcome to improve its levels of peace, specifically high rates of violence and organized crime, judicial weaknesses, weapons trafficking, and rampant corruption, among others. But it nevertheless sees the potential Mexico could have moving forward if these problem areas are effectively addressed. “Mexico has the highest potential to improve its peace of any country in the world when its positive peace measures are compared to its actual levels of violence.”

Justice in Mexico’s David Shirk and Octavio Rodriguez contributed to the MPI with the article “Understanding Mexico’s Criminal Violence” in which they argue that Mexico’s security situation has taken an enormous toll on society. They also underscore the need to continue to monitor and measure Mexico’s progress toward its potential as a peaceful and prosperous nation.


Vision of Humanity. “Global Peace Index.” Institute for Economics and Peace. Last accessed December 13, 2013. 

Vision of Humanity. “Mexico Peace Index.” Institute for Economics and Peace. Last accessed December 13, 2013. 

Vision of Humanity. “Mexico Peace Index: 2013.” Institute for Economics and Peace. Last accessed December 13, 2013. 

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