By Román Zapién.
Business extortion is a crime on the rise in Mexico, and its origins has been popularly associated to other criminal activities. Nonetheless little is known about the factors that make some businesses more susceptible than others.
On the first part of our Talk About, Patricio Estevez, a PhD candidate in Security and Crime Science at UCL, focused his talk on the analytical understanding of the repeated extortion victimisation of Mexican businesses. This crime is the third more profitable in the country according with the national measurements. Using data from the National Commercial Victimization Survey (ENVE) from 2014, Patricio has used a multilevel negative binomial regression to decompose the extortions occurrence based on variables such as corruption, years in business, business size, business type, state and homicide rate. Impressively his results show corruption events (33%), a small size (50%) and being a restaurant, hotel or bar (47%) increase the probability of suffering extortions. Moreover once a business has been extorted it’s more likely to be extorted again regularly.
On the second part of the event Carolina Soto, a PhD student in the UCL Cancer Institute, introduced us to the exciting field of Epigenetics. Using knowledge from this field medical experts and bioscientists are studying the molecular basis of a healthy ageing. “Epigenetics is another language associated with the gene regulation” Carolina highlights. In multicellular organisms (those composed by different cell types) epigenetic modifications allow our cells to differentiate from a single pluripotent cell to the different cell types we observe in the individuals, turning off certain set of genes during their life. “Some of these modifications are triggered by environmental factors, so we are interested on the tags associated with a healthy ageing” argues Carolina. Ageing will be a very important public health issue in the coming years so the study of a healthy ageing is becoming increasingly important.
After Carolina’s talk the attendees raised important questions, from methodological, to legislative, to philosophical. A crucial discussion that this outstanding field is required to have in coming years.