An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances
AbstractWe analyze a unique data set detailing the financial activities of a drug-selling street gang on a monthly basis over a four-year period in the recent past. The data, originally compiled by the gang leader to aid in managing the organization, contain detailed information on both the sources of revenues (e.g. drug sales, extortion) and expenditrues (e.g. costs of drugs sold, weapons, tribute to the central gang organization, wages paid to various levels of the gang). Street-level drug dealing appears to be less lucrative than is generally though. We estimate the average wage in the organization to rise from roughly $6 per hour to $11 per hour over the time period studied. The distribution of wages, however, is extremely skewed. Gang leaders earn far more than they could in the legitimate sector, but the actual street-level dealers appear to earn less than the minimum wage throughout most of our sample, in spite of the substantial risks associated with such activities (the annual violent death rate in our sample is 0.07), There is some evidence consistent both with compensating differentials and efficiency wages. The markup on drugs suggests that the gang has substantial local market power. Gang wars appear to have an important strategic component: violence on another gang's turf shifts demand away from that area. The gang we observe responds to such attacks by pricing below marginal cost, suggesting either economic punishment for the rival gang or the presence of switching for users that makes market share maintenance valuable. We investigate a range of alternative methods for estimating the willingness of gang members to accept risks of death, all of which suggest that the implicit value that gang members place on their own lives is very low.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6592.
Date of creation: Jun 1998
Date of revision:
Note: LE PE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- Steven D. Levitt & Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, 2000. "An Economic Analysis Of A Drug-Selling Gang'S Finances," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 755-789, August.
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981.
"Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
- Michael, Steven C. & Moore, Hollie J., 1995. "Returns to franchising," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 2(1-2), pages 133-155, October.
- Lott, John R, Jr, 1992. "An Attempt at Measuring the Total Monetary Penalty from Drug Convictions: The Importance of an Individual's Reputation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 159-87, January.
- Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "The effects of criminality and conviction on the labor market status of young British offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 109-126, January.
- Baker, George & Gibbs, Michael & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1994. "The Wage Policy of a Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 921-55, November.
- Klemperer, Paul, 1995. "Competition When Consumers Have Switching Costs: An Overview with Applications to Industrial Organization, Macroeconomics, and International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 515-39, October.
- Grogger, Jeffrey, 1991. "Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 297-309, April.
- Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Crime and the Employment of Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- The "Stone Cold" Economics of Professional Wrestling
by Matthew E. Kahn in Environmental and Urban Economics on 2010-07-16 14:15:00
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statistics
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.