Institutions for safe and inclusive cities in Venezuela

Research focus

Caracas, Venezuela, is one of the most violent cities in the world, although it has relatively low income inequality compared to other Latin American cities. Researchers hope to understand this phenomenon by looking at the role institutions play in dealing with poverty, inequality, and violence.

The challenge

In 1998, the homicide rate in Venezuela averaged at 19 per 100,000 inhabitants. By 2011, it more than tripled to 67. Caracas is one of the most violent cities in the world with a homicide rate of 122 per 100,000 inhabitants. While urban violence experts argue that social and income inequalities are linked with violence, this theory does not hold true in the Venezuelan context. In fact, while homicide rates have tripled over the past 12 years, inequality has significantly decreased. This project will test the hypothesis that institutions play an important mediating role between poverty, inequality, and violence. Researchers will explore how institutions provoke, sustain, and/or reduce these factors in Venezuelan cities. The goal: to better understand these connections to contribute to the design and development of strategies aimed at making cities safer.

The research

This project seeks to:

  • determine the relationship between poverty, inequality, segregation, social capital, social cohesion, rule of law, citizen culture, and violence in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities
  • establish how social capital, social cohesion, rule of law, and citizen culture are linked and determine how they contribute to building a culture that institutionalizes these factors
  • better understand how poverty, inequality, urban segregation, and institutional practices affect urban violence in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities
  • explore the mediating role that institutions play between poverty, inequality, segregation, and violence in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities
  • design recommendations that enhance the effectiveness of institutional policies aimed at reducing poverty, inequality, and urban violence and that contribute to safer, more inclusive cities.

Expected outcomes

The research is expected to increase knowledge about the role that institutions play in mediating between poverty, inequality, and segregation in urban contexts, as well as in reducing violence. Based on the project findings, this initiative will contribute to better policy recommendations for more effective violence-reduction strategies in Venezuela.

The project outputs will include:

  • publications in peer-reviewed journal articles
  • research results validated and discussed with regional and national authorities, as well as with experts from other urban Latin American contexts
  • public policy recommendations presented to and discussed with local and regional authorities.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Monday, April 1, 2013

End Date

Monday, February 29, 2016


35 months

IDRC Officer

Markus Gottsbacher

Total funding

CA$ 579,400


Latin America, Venezuela, Caribbean

Project Leader

Roberto Briceño-León


Instituto de Investigacion LACSO

Institution Country


Institution Website