Institutions for Safe and Inclusive Cities in Venezuela

Caracas, Venezuela, is one of the most violent cities in the world with a homicide rate of 122 per 100,000 inhabitants. Urban violence experts believe that social and income inequalities are highly correlated with the incidence of violence, but this does not hold true in this context. In fact, Venezuela has the lowest level of income inequality in Latin America. How can this be explained? Why is Caracas, and Venezuela more generally, an exception to the rule? What does this mean for policymakers and practitioners who are seeking to reduce violence, inequality, and poverty in an integrated way? This project will seek answers to these questions. Researchers will test the hypothesis that institutions play an important mediating role between poverty, inequality, and violence by exploring how they provoke, sustain, and/or reduce these factors in Venezuelan cities. The project will draw on social capital, social cohesion, civic culture, and the rule of law research to explain increasing levels of violence, poverty, and inequality experienced in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities. Researchers will conduct in-depth qualitative interviews and focus groups in several urban centres, including informal settlements or slums. Research participants will include community leaders, youth, women, men, and public authorities, such as police officers. The research team will conduct a national household survey. They will also undertake a quantitative analysis of secondary sources based on official records and other available survey data. Their research will look at trends in similarly violent cities in Brazil, Colombia, and El Salvador. The research team will prepare recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of institutional policies aimed at reducing poverty, inequality, and urban segregation-ultimately contributing to safer and more inclusive cities. This project is part of the Safe and Inclusive Cities (SAIC) research initiative designed to build an evidence base on the connections between urban violence, poverty, and inequalities. Jointly funded by IDRC and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, the SAIC program also seeks to identify the most effective strategies for addressing these challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Friday, December 21, 2012


32 months

IDRC Officer

Markus Gottsbacher

Total funding

CA$ 579,400


Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, United Kingdom


Governance and Justice, Safe and Inclusive Cities

Project Leader

Roberto Briceño-León


Instituto de Investigacion LACSO

Institution Country


Institution Website