Understanding Organized Crime Networks: Evidence Based on Federal Bureau of Narcotics Secret Files on American Mafia
AbstractUsing unique data on criminal profiles of 800 US Mafia members active in the 50s and 60s and on their connections within the Cosa Nostra network we analyze how the geometry of criminal ties between mobsters depends on family ties, community roots and ties, legal and illegal activities. We contrast our evidence with historical and sociological views about the functioning of the Mafia. Much of our findings are remarkably in line with these views, with interesting qualifications. We interpret some of our results in light of a model of optimal vertical and horizontal connections where more connections mean more profits but also a higher risk of defection. We find that variables that lower the risk of defection, among others, kinship, violence, and mafia culture increase the number of connections. Moreover, there is evidence of strategic endogamy: female children are as valuable as male ones, and being married to a "connected" wife is a strong predictor of leadership within the Mafia ranks. A very parsimonious regression model explains one third of the variability in the criminal ranking of the "men of honor," suggesting that these variables could be used to detect criminal leaders. An additional prediction of our simple model is a right-skewed distribution of the number of connections, which is remarkably in line with the evidence of an extremely hierarchical organization.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Collegio Carlo Alberto in its series Carlo Alberto Notebooks with number 152.
Length: 58 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Mafia; Networks; Intermarriage; Assortative Matching; Crime;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
- C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
- D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
- D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
- Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification
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