Karen Ortiz holds a Masters in Economics from Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. She also received a B.A. in Economics from the same university in 2010. She currently works as a consultant for the Citizen Security Cluster of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. Previously, she has worked as a research assistant at the Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean in The World Bank, the Department of Economics at Universidad de los Andes, and Fedesarrollo, the most prominent think tank in Colombia. Her research includes studies on the analysis of crime concentration in Latin American cities as well as the identification and characterization of hot spots of crime. She has also participated in a cross-country study on the determinants of crime and violence in Latin America as well as several impact evaluations of social programs on poverty reduction and early childhood development in Colombia.
Criminality in the Biggest Cities in Colombia: Evidence on the Concentration at the Street Segment Level
The purpose of this study is to analyze criminality in the four biggest cities in Colombia -Bogotá, Cali, Medellín and Barranquilla- using crime data at the street segment level. To do so, we propose an aggregate crime index consisting of the sum of the five most frequently and accurately reported types of crime (i.e. homicide, personal injury, car theft, robbery, and drug trafficking/production), weighted by their average sentence in years according to the Colombian Penal Code. We calculate the distribution and concentration of criminality by street segments using this crime index. In addition, we identify and map hot spots of crime as well as crime trajectories using data from the last seven years. Finally, we estimate some regression models in order to assess the relationship between street segment characteristics related to the theory of opportunity and street segment patterns of crime. The data used in this study corresponds to administrative data from the Colombian National Police for the years 2007- 2012. We also use a wave of geo-coded data on the number of establishments near the street segments such as hospitals, police stations, schools, malls, government facilities, etc. The results show evidence of high concentrations of crime within the cities. All the homicides during the period 2011-2012 occurred in less than 5% of the street segments in each of the four cities. Likewise, all the criminal incidents included in the aggregate crime index occurred in less than 30% of the street segments. As found in Weisburd et al. (2012), we find that such levels of concentration are persistent over time.