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The Value of Connections: Evidence from the Italian-American Mafia

  • Giovanni Mastrobuoni

Using declassified Federal Bureau of Narcotics records on 800 US Mafia mem- bers active in the 1950s and 1960s, and on their connections within the organized crime network, I estimate network effects on gangsters’ economic status. Lacking information on criminal proceeds, I measure economic status exploiting detailed information about their place of residence. Housing values are reconstructed using current deflated transactions recorded on I deal with the potential reverse causality between the economic status and the gangster’s position in the network exploiting exogenous exposure to potential pre-immigration connections. In the absence of pre-immigration data I use the informational content of surnames, called isonomy, to measure the place of origin. The instrument is valid as long as conditional on the characteristics of the gang- sters (including the region of birth and a rich set of controls about the gangsters’ legal and illegal activities) such exposure influences the gangsters’ importance in- side the network (called centrality) but not the preference for specific housing needs. A standard deviation increase in closeness centrality increases economic status by between one forth (OLS) and one standard deviation (2SLS).

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Paper provided by Collegio Carlo Alberto in its series Carlo Alberto Notebooks with number 335.

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Length: 67 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:335
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