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Elections are life and death — literally

30 July 2010

Electing a PAN government might be hazardous to your health, according to Melissa Dell, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Economics. As Noel Maurer posts at The Power of Money:

She took daily county-level data on drug-related homicides (generally called “executions” in the Mexican data). She then tested a simple, but not intuitive, hypothesis. If the government crackdown prompted more violence, then we should expect drug-related violence to jump after a county elects a mayor from the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN). The reason is that Calderón’s party is the PAN. Not only did the federal PAN spearhead the assault on organized crime, but PAN candidates generally campaigned on a “tough on drugs” platform, and one would expect PAN mayors to be better able to coordinate law enforcement with the PAN federal government.

Violence jumps about 15% after the election of a PAN mayor. The dotted lines are confidence intervals, so you can see that effect is statistically significant. The violence does not occur after the election, but rather the inauguration of a PAN mayor. In other words, the expectation that a Panista will take office does nothing, but the actions the new administrations take after gaining office do something…

Melissa also used data on shootouts between cartel members; they jump after a PAN victory…

The jump in drug-related killings does not happen if a PRI or PRD mayor wins…  It might be that PAN mayors are more corrupt that their Priísta or Perredista competitors, but that seems unlikely. In fact, the 2008 county-level data she analyzed showed no difference in mayoral corruption (as reported by federal law enforcement agencies) across counties governed by different parties…

I haven’t a clue what this means for where I live — with both the municipio (what Maurer calls a “county”) and the state having just elected a coalition PAN-PRD-Convergencia-PT Presidente Municipal (Maurer’s “mayor”) and Governor.  I know all the “cool kids” among the Mexican narco-blogo-statisto-sphere (Gancho, El Pinche Holandés, Diego Valle) have requested copies and will have something to say about it.

I do wonder though, how the parties will spin this.  Neither “vote for us, for a statistically significant lower murder rate” ,  nor “more bangs for your votes”  are exactly inspiring sound-bites.

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