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Socioeconomic development and the risk of maritime piracy


  • Charles Okeahalam

    () (AGH Group and University of the Witwatersrand)

  • Kennedy Otwombe

    (University of the Witwatersrand)


Abstract Maritime piracy is a phenomenon with implications for international trade. It is usually of two types: armed robbery and hijacking of vessels. This paper uses general estimating equations (GEE) modelling to assess factors that determine the risk of piracy attacks. We consider the impact which the level of economic and institutional development in a number of regions may have on the frequency and success and failure rates of piracy attacks. We find that the frequency of piracy attacks is higher in regions where the quality of institutions is low and that most attacks take place in close proximity to a port. We also find that successful attacks are most likely in regions that are poor and have low military capacity. The success rate of the hijacking version of piracy has no effect on the probability of the armed robbery form of piracy. In the horn of Africa and South–East Asia, the probability of piracy attacks decreases during the month of Ramadan. While in the short-term, military responses may have a role to play, long-term sustainable policy requires that this is combined with enhancement of economic opportunity, governance and human capital development.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Okeahalam & Kennedy Otwombe, 2016. "Socioeconomic development and the risk of maritime piracy," Journal of Transportation Security, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 125-160, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jtrsec:v:9:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s12198-016-0171-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s12198-016-0171-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ostrom, Elinor, 2007. "Challenges and growth: the development of the interdisciplinary field of institutional analysis," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(3), pages 239-264, December.
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    3. Jessica Henson Decker & Jamus Jerome Lim, 2008. "What fundamentally drives growth? Revisiting the institutions and economic performance debate," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(5), pages 698-725.
    4. Wei Pan, 2001. "Akaike's Information Criterion in Generalized Estimating Equations," Biometrics, The International Biometric Society, vol. 57(1), pages 120-125, March.
    5. Sascha Pristrom & Kevin X. Li & Zaili Yang & Jin Wang, 2013. "A study of maritime security and piracy," Maritime Policy & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(7), pages 675-693, December.
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    7. Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso & Sami Bensassi, 2013. "The Price Of Modern Maritime Piracy," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(5), pages 397-418, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria G. Burns, 2018. "Participatory Operational & Security Assessment on homeland security risks: an empirical research method for improving security beyond the borders through public/private partnerships," Journal of Transportation Security, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 85-100, December.

    More about this item


    Shipping; Piracy; Institutions; Governance; Economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • F63 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Economic Development
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise


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