State Capacity and Effectiveness in Combating Crime: A Comparative Study of El Salvador and Guatemala   [open pdf - 572KB]

From the thesis abstract: "Less than two decades after the conclusion of brutal civil wars, El Salvador and Guatemala are once again faced with high levels of violence stemming from drug trafficking, organized crime, corruption, and gangs. Overall, El Salvador was more successful in post-war state building. However, despite having stronger institutions and more capabilities, it is not better off when it comes to public security when compared to Guatemala, a state with weaker institutions and fewer resources. In fact, El Salvador's homicide rates have been consistently higher. According to prevailing conventional wisdom, a country with stronger institutions and more resources should be more capable and effective at maintaining order, but this is not the case. This thesis examines the nature of crime, institutional capacity, and the effectiveness of government responses to reduce violent crime. It argues that decisions made during the transition period set these states on different paths. Furthermore, while strong institutions are important to maintaining order, government policy can strengthen or weaken the effectiveness of the institution. Strong institutions are necessary, but not sufficient."

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Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library: http://www.nps.edu/Library/index.aspx
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