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The Impact of the 1982 Peso Devaluations on Crime in Texas Border Cities

Michael V. Miller, Sue Keir Hoppe, Harry W. Martin


The functional integrity of the U.S.-Mexico border region is jeopardized whenever the policies of either nation disrupt important transborder linkages. A case in point is the economic distress experienced in U.S. border cities following a series of drastic monetary changes initiated by the Mexican government in 1982. The peso devaluations, coupled with foreign exchange and trade controls, precipitated sharp drops in Mexican commercial demand, which in turn led to widespread business failures, spiraling unemployment, and expanding welfare rolls in border communities highly dependent on Mexican trade.

While the well-documented economic shocks caused by the 1982 devaluations varied in magnitude by locale (Baerresen 1982, Diehl 1983, Hansen 1983, Shellhammer 1984, Ellard 1985, Harrell and Fischer 1985), their broader social impacts across border cities have not yet been examined. The effect of the devaluations on crime patterns is an especially relevant issue from both public-policy and social-scientific standpoints. The present study addresses the influence of economic disruption on crime within the four major Texas cities adjacent to the Mexican border -- Brownsville, McAllen, Laredo, and El Paso.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229