Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Cost of crime doubles - Burden to Ja more than $60 billion in four years

Published:Tuesday | February 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Professor Anthony Clayton,

A new international study putting the total cost of crime to Jamaica over the four-year period 2010-2014 at approximately $63.2 billion is almost doubled when indirect costs are added, crime expert Professor Anthony Clayton has said.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) released The Costs of Crime and Violence: New Evidence and Insights in Latin America and the Caribbean last week.

Jamaica was one of 17 countries examined to determine the social costs, which included loss of income, public costs which looked at justice, prison and police expenses; private costs examined spending on security by businesses and households.

"The overall estimates reveal that crime costs Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries three per cent of GDP. This represents a cost of up to US$236 billion (adjusted for purchasing parity)," wrote Ana Maria Rodriguez-Ortiz, the IDB's manager institutions for development.

In terms of the crime-related costs as a percentage of GDP in the LAC for 2014, Jamaica had the fourth highest - 3.99. Honduras had the highest at 6.51.

Jamaica ended 2014 with GDP of approximately US$13.9 billion and an exchange rate of 114.66.

Clayton said the IDB's study is critical in ensuring policymakers have appropriate data on which to make decisions. But he said when indirect costs are considered, Jamaica is even at a further disadvantage in terms of the effect crime has had on development.




"The indirect costs included investments that might have come to this country but didn't because of concerns about crime and corruption. Then there's the loss of human capital - we lose a lot of our skilled people migrating to other jurisdictions. It (crime) has an effect on people's propensity to save and invest in Jamaica. People are less likely to invest if they think that they're going to become the victims of extortion."

He added: "When you take into account these other costs, then I believe from work that we've done, that you're looking at somewhere just over seven per cent of GDP."

According to the report, the LAC "remains the most violent region in the world, with a homicide rate of 24 per 100,000 population in 2015". That's about four times the global average, it added.