Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The structure of agricultural production and the causes of brigandage and criminal organisations in Italy after Unification: theory and evidence

Del Monte, Alfredo and Pennacchio, Luca (2011): The structure of agricultural production and the causes of brigandage and criminal organisations in Italy after Unification: theory and evidence.

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to show that in the period after Italian Unification in 1861 two very important criminal phenomena in southern Italy, brigandage and organised crime, became rooted in the structure of rural and land organisation. We use econometrics to show that brigandage intensity was higher in the poorest areas of southern Italy where land ownership was highly concentrated and productivity was low. By contrast, using a different econometric exercise we show that organised crime developed only in the wealthiest areas. Empirical evidence also shows that there was an inverse relation between the intensity of brigandage and that of organised crime in the regions of the Mezzogiorno. Therefore, widespread brigandage was not the main cause of the development of organised crime, as suggested elsewhere (Gambetta, 1993; Bandiera, 2003). We develop a simple model to show that organised crime has a greater incentive to offer protection when economic development and land productivity are higher and the state is unable to provide adequate protection for property rights. The model is tested on the provinces in southern Italy in the late nineteenth century and then on Sicilian towns in the early 1900s.

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