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Crime and Punishment in Abidjan

Shanta Devarajan's picture

The first-prize winner of the African Public Policy Awards was a paper by Jose Carlos Assi Kimou on the determinants of crime in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 

Using rigorous statistical methods, the paper shows that crime in Abidjan (i) goes down as enforcement (measured by the number of policemen) goes up; (ii) goes up with negative external shocks, such as the 1994 devaluation of the CFA Franc and the 1999 coup d’état,

although the civil war seems to have reduced aggravated assaults and homicides, presumably because of the large number of military personnel on the streets; and (iii) has an ambiguous relationship with income—thefts go up with income, but homicides go down. 


This is an important paper by an up-and-coming researcher—Kimou also won the global IIPF “Young Researchers Award” for excellence by economists under 40.


Submitted by JohnMurrayMcIntire on
The paper opens with a revealing error about another crime in Abidjan. It asserts: "In addition, the economic situation of Côte d’Ivoire has declined significantly since the 1980s with the fall in the prices of its export products (cocoa and coffee in particular) and the devaluation of the CFA currency in 1994. The growth rate of the GDP declined constantly going from 5.7% in 1997 to 4.8% in 1998 and from 1.6% in 1999 to – 1.2% in 2002 (Azam and Koidou, 2002)." While the paper correctly notes the fall in growth after 1998, that fall is due to the political instability before and after the coup of 1999. In fact the devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 improved CIV's rate of economic growth. The rate of economic growth was 1.1 % from 1985 through 1993; it was 5.2 % from 1994 through 1998. The rate of growth of per capita household consumption was -2.2 % from 1985 through 1993; it was 3.3% from 1994 through 1998. What is revealing is that it is still a crime in Abidjan, and even north of la perle des lagunes, to say publicly that the devaluation helped economic growth in Cote d'Ivoire.

Submitted by vickie on
i'm a first year at the university and studying economic management analysis,so my concern is based on the fact that-i can say i chose this course because i enjoy it and passionate about it,but my problem is that i kind of feel that i lack more knowledge of this field of i just wonder if there is any way that i can be informatic or maybe if i can get some tips from other economists..please i really need help.anyone who insist to help can with pleasure email me..thank you.

Submitted by Anonymous on
What seem an ambiguous relationship of crime with income—thefts go up with income, but homicides go down- may simply reveal different things : thefts as an active mechanism of income redistribution for these actors who feel excluded of economics opportunities. So why kill (homicides go down) those holders (surely less protected ones)who are their providers ? Indeed, isn't it a reflection of inequality of opportunities combined to deprivation of material basic needs that cause such violence, specially these unwilling contracts ? Good matters for subsequent analysis!!!!! Congratulations to this first-prize winner ! thanks.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Thanks for reference to the Ivory Coast study on determinants of crime. We need more such analysis of how the justice sector evolves.

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