Thursday, March 07, 2013

Venezuela, Inequality & Crime

Some leftists might, reluctantly, concede that recently deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, was somewhat authoritarian in dealing with his political opponents, befriended the worst dictatorships of the world and had a far worse economy than other oil exporters.

But at least he was successful in reducing poverty and inequality, they would counter. That seems to be true. Though Venezuela's economy has been much weaker than other oil exporters, the sky-rocketing price of oil since Chavez took power still means that Venezuela has become richer. And because Chavez has used that oil wealth to spend money on the poor, inequality and poverty has in fact declined. Because of this, Venezuela is according to some estimates the most economically equal country in Latin America now.

Yet, even as inequality has dropped, violent crime has increased sharply (from an already very high level) since Chavez took power. This observation is particularly interesting considering the leftist theory that crime is caused by inequality.