Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Fighting crime for improved recycling: evaluating an anti-mafia policy on source separation of waste.

Baraldi, Anna Laura and Cantabene, Claudia and De Iudicibus, Alessandro (2023): Fighting crime for improved recycling: evaluating an anti-mafia policy on source separation of waste.

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It is well documented that organized crime heavily affects the waste management system. This paper focuses on examining the impact of Law 164/1991, one of Italy’s most stringent measures against organized crime. The law, designed to counteract suspected mafia infiltration by mandating the dissolution of city councils, is investigated for its role in reinstating a more efficient waste management system. This involves an increase in selective waste collection for recycling purposes. We exploit the staggered enforcement of Law 164/1991 to show that both the percentage and the per-capita tonnes in selective waste collection, measured for municipalities in Apulia, Calabria, Campania and Sicily, increase sharply starting from the first election after compulsory administration in dissolved municipalities compared to the control group of those never dissolved; the average treatment effect of the anti-mafia policy is measured in a 5 percentage points and 17.5 Kg increase in the percentage and in per-capita tonnes of selective waste collection, respectively. This outcome is influenced by the city council dismissal, as it severs the connections between organized crime and local politicians. The resulting refreshed pool of elected officials, characterized by lower levels of corruption, then implements policies that are unfavorable to organized crime. This leads to a more effective allocation of public funds in sectors specifically targeted by organized crime, such as waste management.

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