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Paras, Pablo G. (2013). The Power of Perceptions: How Social Capital is being impacted by Crime and Corruption in Mexico. University of Connecticut: Doctoral Dissertation

Coinciding with the transition to democracy in Mexico (and elsewhere in Latin America), violent crime increased substantially and joined with the citizenry’s concerns about corruption. The overarching question of the research can be summarized as: How and how much do perceptions and experiences with crime and corruption impact democracy? In its most general conception the thesis is that in Mexico, an increasingly adverse context (experience + perceptions) of crime and corruption has a negative and significant impact on social capital. This discussion can be viewed as a partial assessment of the quality of democracy in Mexico. The topic is of relevance because the magnitude of crime and corruption in Mexico suggest that they have become ‘regularized patterns of interaction’.

Social capital is viewed as a two-dimension/three-components concept that can be measure by adding the stocks of its components: trust, reciprocity and participation. This dependent variable, as well as its determinants, is measured integrally and in depth using ad-hoc public opinion survey research. Analysis of two different groups is contrasted using confirmatory factor analysis to validate measurements and structural equation models to test causal relations. The general model of interaction and causality between variables is confirmed by the data.

The principal finding is that crime/corruption have direct and indirect effects of both the cognitive and structural dimensions of social capital as well as on human capital and other democratic attitudes. Individuals that have been victims of crime/corruption or those who have greater perceptions of the magnitude of these problems, live with greater fear, are less likely to trust individuals or institutions, to cooperate with others and to participate in formal/informal social organizations. Additionally they report lower levels of personal health and lower satisfaction with democracy. The research provides evidence of the negative impact that crime/corruption have on democracy and development.

The relation between variables is tested using alternate data and method of analysis. Some results are confirmed but others are contradictory and it is argued that the main reason is the difference in measurement and method.


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Paras, Pablo G.


University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut is one of the nation's leading public research universities. UConn's main campus in Storrs is admitting the highest-achieving freshmen in University history. Student diversity continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and...

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