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"Robin Hook": The Developmental Effects of Somali Piracy


  • Anja Shortland


Naval counter-piracy measures off Somalia have failed to change the incentives for pirates, raising calls for land-based approaches that may involve replacing piracy as a source of income. This paper evaluates the effects of piracy on the Somali economy to establish which (domestic) groups benefit from ransom monies. Given the paucity of economic data on Somalia, we evaluate province-level market data, nightlight emissions and high resolution satellite imagery. We show that significant amounts of ransom monies are spent within Somalia. The impacts appear to be spread widely, benefiting the working poor and pastoralists and offsetting the food price shock of 2008 in the pirate provinces. Pirates appear to invest their money principally in the main cities of Garowe and Bosasso rather than in the backward coastal communities.

Suggested Citation

  • Anja Shortland, 2011. ""Robin Hook": The Developmental Effects of Somali Piracy," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 54, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diweos:diweos54

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tim Besley & Thiemo Fetzer & Hannes Mueller, 2012. "One Kind of Lawlessness: Estimating the Welfare Cost of Somali Piracy," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 898.12, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    2. Anja Shortland, 2010. "The Business of Piracy in Somalia," Weekly Report, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 6(23), pages 182-186.
    3. Jean-Francois Maystadt & Olivier Ecker & Athur Mabiso, 2013. "Extreme Weather and Civil War in Somalia: Does Drought Fuel Conflict through Livestock Price Shocks?," LICOS Discussion Papers 32613, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    4. Timothy Besley & Thiemo Fetzer & Hannes Mueller, 2015. "The Welfare Cost Of Lawlessness: Evidence From Somali Piracy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 203-239, April.
    5. Anja Shortland & Sarah Percy, 2012. "Counter-Piracy in Somalia: Help or Hindrance?," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 12-03, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.

    More about this item


    Somalia; piracy; cash transfers; economic development; remote sensing; satellite imaging;

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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