In a just-released white paper, our editorial team at sister publication Global Delivery Report went beyond the sensational headlines surrounding the Mexico crime issue to unearth and interpret real data focused on the country’s second largest metro area – Guadalajara. Their findings: The “Silicon Valley of Mexico” is as safe or safer, than similarly-sized cities in Latin America and North America.
The report drew on regional data from government and private sources including FBI Uniform Crime Reports, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Mexico Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), the Economist Intelligence Unit, as well as a survey of foreign born professionals living in the area about their perceptions of security.
When it comes to homicide rates, the data show that Guadalajara is on a par with cities such as Houston, and actually has a lower rate than American cities such as Baltimore and New Orleans, all locations where North American businesses would visit or invest in without fear of personal safety. It is also on a par, or reports lower homicide rates, than popular Latin American destinations such as Rio de Janeiro and Bogota.
The data also show that Jalisco, the state of which Guadalajara is the capital, has become much safer over the last 15 years. While the state did see a rise in the number of homicides in 2009, it is important to note that violence tends to be concentrated in specific areas, between specific segments of the population. This is also true of many urban areas, as readers know from experience in their own communities. (From Far Away, Even Boston Looks Dangerous, Too.)
In Chicago, for example, of 379 homicides over the last 365 days, over 47 percent took place in just two concentrated blocks of neighborhoods on the south and west side of the city, between rival gangs.
Just as important as the numbers, of course, is the quality of life – whether an area “feels” safe. Global Delivery Report surveyed foreign-born expatriates, the majority of whom said they considered Guadalajara “as safe or safer” than their original homes. Interestingly, 78 percent of respondents originally from the United States found GDL “as safe or safer.” Not one European found GDL safer than their home city, and only 38 percent found it as safe. This suggests that current personal safety conditions in GDL are somewhere between that of the US and Europe. It is also important to note that for the 40 percent that considered GDL less safe, the point scale difference between all responses averaged only 1.14. This means that while some respondents felt safer back home, the difference in perception didn’t appear extreme.
And when asked to rate Guadalajara on personal safety, most respondents considered it “not at all dangerous.” Furthermore, judging from the comments provided by respondents, the general consensus was that, just like in any urban environment, it’s wise to take normal precautions to avoid dangerous situations. Finally, an overwhelming majority said that their personal safety was never threatened during their normal routine.
The report says local government and private sector leaders must ensure that progress continues in education, employment and security to provide the conditions that will lead to ever-greater security. However, the data shows that its stable economy, good quality of life, technologically-savvy labor pool, and relatively labor costs provide room to grow across various high-skilled and lower-skilled industries.
This article originally appeared on Global Delivery Report