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Beheading a Hydra: Kingpin Extradition, Homicides, Education Outcomes, and the End of Medellin’s Pax Mafiosa


  • Haugan, Gregory L.

    (University of Chicago)

  • Santos, Rafael

    (Universidad de los Andes)


In 2008, a powerful Colombian crime lord (Don Berna) was extradited to the United States. Homicides doubled in his stronghold of Medellin immediately following the extradition. We use variation in time generated by the pre- and post-extradition periods, and variation in space generated by areas of Medellin originally controlled by Don Berna to estimate the impact of the extradition on homicides. We then use the extradition as an instrument for homicides, and show that the wave of violence had downstream effects on education outcomes in the city. Homicide exposure led to a decrease in test scores, increased student dropout (driven by males and poorer students), and increased teacher turnover among teachers with the highest qualifications. Homicides disproportionately affect the test scores of high-performing and non-poor students.

Suggested Citation

  • Haugan, Gregory L. & Santos, Rafael, 2024. "Beheading a Hydra: Kingpin Extradition, Homicides, Education Outcomes, and the End of Medellin’s Pax Mafiosa," Documentos CEDE 21073, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:021073

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    Extradition; Homicides; Gang Violence; Education; Test scores;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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