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On the historical and geographic origins of the Sicilian mafia

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Author Info

  • Buonanno, Paolo
  • Durante, Ruben
  • Prarolo, Giovanni
  • Vanin, Paolo

Abstract

This research attempts to explain the large differences in the early diffusion of the mafia across different areas of Sicily. We advance the hypothesis that, after the demise of Sicilian feudalism, the lack of publicly provided property-right protection from widespread banditry favored the development of a florid market for private protection and the emergence of a cartel of protection providers: the mafia. This would especially be the case in those areas (prevalently concentrated in the Western part of the island) characterized by the production and commercialization of sulphur and citrus fruits, Sicily's most valuable export goods whose international demand was soaring at the time. We test this hypothesis combining data on the early incidence of mafia across Sicilian municipalities and on the distribution of sulphur reserves, land suitability for the cultivation of citrus fruits, distance from the main commercial ports, and a variety of other geographical controls. Our empirical findings provide support for the proposed hypothesis documenting, in particular, a significant impact of sulphur extraction, terrain ruggedness, and distance from Palermo's port on mafia's early diffusion.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 37009.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2011
Date of revision: 01 Feb 2012
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:37009

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Related research

Keywords: Organized crime; Mafia; Private protection; Persistence; Trade shocks; Sulfur; Citrus fruits;

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References

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  1. Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "The economic costs of organized crime: evidence from southern Italy," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 868, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  2. Stelios Michalopoulos & Alireza Naghavi & Giovanni Prarolo, 2010. "Trade and Geography in the Economic Origins of Islam: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 2010.75, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  3. Nathan Nunn & Diego Puga, 2012. "Ruggedness: The Blessing of Bad Geography in Africa," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 20-36, February.
  4. Paolo Buonanno & Giacomo Pasini & Paolo Vanin, 2012. "Crime and social sanction," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 91(1), pages 193-218, 03.
  5. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1996. "Why is There More Crime in Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1746, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  6. Durante, Ruben, 2009. "Risk, Cooperation and the Economic Origins of Social Trust: an Empirical Investigation," MPRA Paper 25887, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2011. "The Origins of Technolinguistic Diversity," Economics Working Papers 0095, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  8. Vittorio Daniele & Paolo Malanima, 2007. "Il prodotto delle regioni e il divario Nord-Sud in Italia (1861-2004)," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 97(2), pages 267-316, March-Apr.
  9. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  10. Varese, Federico, 2005. "The Russian Mafia: Private Protection in a New Market Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279494, Octomber.
  11. Mastrobuoni Giovanni & Patacchini Eleonora, 2012. "Organized Crime Networks: an Application of Network Analysis Techniques to the American Mafia," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 11(3), pages 1-43, September.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Mafianomic history
    by Chris Colvin in NEP-HIS blog on 2012-03-10 19:01:46
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Cited by:
  1. Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "The economic costs of organized crime: evidence from southern Italy," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 868, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  2. Guglielmo Barone & Gaia Narciso, 2012. "The Effect Of Mafia On Public Transfers," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp398, IIIS.
  3. Dimico, Arcangelo & Isopi, Alessia & Olsson, Ola, 2012. "Origins of the Sicilian Mafia: The Market for Lemons," Working Papers in Economics 532, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  4. Acconcia, Antonio & Immordino, Giovanni & Piccolo, Salvatore & Rey, Patrick, 2013. "Accomplice-Witness and Organized Crime: Theory and Evidence from Italy," IDEI Working Papers 777, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.

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