Covert Repression and Voting Behavior: The Case of Argentina’s Dirty War

co-authored with Adam Scharpf (German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), University of Mannheim)

In progress


The Welfare State amid Crime: How victimization and fear of crime affect preferences for redistribution in Latin America

co-authored with Melina Altamirano (Colmex) & Sandra Ley (CIDE)

Abstract: Criminal activity continues to be one of the most pressing problems in Latin American societies. Recent evidence reveals that crime affects political behavior and demand for security policies. However, we know less about how violence shapes citizens’ preferences regarding the role of the state in providing welfare policies. We propose two possible responses to crime. On one hand, the failure of the state to provide security might increase distrust in the government and therefore reduce support for an active role of the state in reducing inequalities. On the other hand, violence might increase popular support for social policies if citizens perceive redistribution as a tool to address criminality. Using survey data from LAPOP for 18 Latin American countries for 2008, 2010 and 2012, we study the impact of crime victimization and fear of crime on support for redistribution and welfare demand. Our findings suggest that increased perceptions of insecurity promote more conservative welfare policy attitudes, but once individuals personally experience crime, there seems to be an understanding for the need for welfare policies and redistribution. Since fear of crime is, however, more widespread than actual victimization, our findings suggest that increasing crime rates might put welfare state development at stake in the long run.


Apathy or Anger? – How Crime Experience Affects Individual Vote Intention in Latin America and the Caribbean, co-authored with Mirko Dallendörfer (University of Cologne)

(currently under review)

Abstract: Does the experience of falling victim to crime lead to individual disenchantment from politics or can it even stir political activism in the most classical form of democratic participation, that is, the act of voting? We study how victimization experience through crime affects the individual intention to vote in presidential elections with survey data from Latin America and the Caribbean. Research on war victimization revealed that witnesses of violence and victims in civil wars become more engaged in their political behavior, especially regarding non-electoral forms of political action. In contrast, psychological research implies that victimization and fear of crime increase individual apathy and abstention from politics due to loss of self-esteem. Building a cognitive foundation of political activism we solve these conflicting arguments by proposing that it is the level of distress which increases – in the case of non-violent crime experience –, or decreases – in the case of violent crime exposure – the likelihood of voting. Our survey results indicate that non-violent crime experience increases electoral participation. The probability of turnout does, however, not change for victims of violent crime. We offer a mechanism which explains the non-violent crime induced electoral mobilization by increased support for ‘mano dura’ politics and an anti-incumbent effect.