Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


The Mexican War on Drugs: Crime and the Limits of Government Persuasion

Working Paper

Beatriz Magaloni - Stanford University
Alberto Díaz-Cayeros - Stanford University
Vidal Romero - Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

Issued by
CDDRL Working Papers, Vol. 144
October 2013

In order to successfully battle organized crime, governments require a certain degree of citizens’ support. Governments are sometimes able to influence citizens’ opinions, but sometimes they are not. Under what circumstances do pro-government frames influence citizens’ opinions? Will individuals who are victims of crime be equally sensitive to frames than those who are not? We argue that crime victimization desensitizes citizens to pro-government frames. This further complicates governments’ fights against criminals, creating a vicious circle of insecurity, distrust, and frustrated policy interventions. To test our argument, we conducted a frame experiment embedded in a nationwide survey in Mexico. The empirical evidence supports our argument in most circumstances; yet desensitization is moderated by love media-exposure and identification with the president’s party.