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Understanding Organized Crime Networks: Evidence Based on Federal Bureau of Narcotics Secret Files on American Mafia

Author

Listed:
  • Giovanni Mastrobuoni
  • Eleonora Patacchini

Abstract

Using 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Eleonora Patacchini, 2010. "Understanding Organized Crime Networks: Evidence Based on Federal Bureau of Narcotics Secret Files on American Mafia," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 152, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:152
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    File URL: http://www.carloalberto.org/assets/working-papers/no.152.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2008. "The strength of weak ties in crime," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 209-236, February.
    2. Mariagiovanna Baccara & Heski Bar-Isaac, 2008. "How to Organize Crime -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1039-1067.
    3. Heski Bar-Isaac & Mariagiovanna Baccara, 2006. "How to Organize Crime," Working Papers 06-07, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    4. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
    5. Yann Bramoullé & Bernard Fortin, 2009. "The Econometrics of Social Networks," Cahiers de recherche 0913, CIRPEE.
    6. Alexander, Barbara J, 1997. "The Rational Racketeer: Pasta Protection in Depression Era Chicago," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(1), pages 175-202, April.
    7. Garoupa, Nuno, 2007. "Optimal law enforcement and criminal organization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 461-474, July.
    8. Vimal Kumar & Stergios Skaperdas, 2008. "On The Economics oF Organized Crime," Working Papers 070815, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    9. Oriana Bandiera, 2003. "Land Reform, the Market for Protection, and the Origins of the Sicilian Mafia: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 218-244, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "The Economic Costs of Organized Crime: Evidence from Southern Italy," Working Papers 054, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mafia; Networks; Intermarriage; Assortative Matching; Crime;

    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; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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