Comparative Economic Studies

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 31–47

Membership Has its Privileges: Old and New Mafia Organizations

  • Maria Minniti
ACES Panel Papers

DOI: 10.1057/ces.1995.40

Cite this article as:
Minniti, M. Comp Econ Stud (1995) 37: 31. doi:10.1057/ces.1995.40


What makes a country, or a geographical area, more likely to develop a mafia? At the beginning we find a large-scale shock to the social system that pushes it from a low-crime equilibrium without a mafia toward a high-crime equilibrium with a mafia. Following the shock, the necessary condition for the development of a mafia is the existence of a dynamic, which I call social contagion, similar to a technological lock-in. Indeed, the outbreak of a mafia-like organization creates a self-reinforcing process. Consequently, anti-mafia policies will be successful only if able to push the system back toward a low-crime mafia-free equilibrium. Unfortunately, however, if being a member of the mafia begins to emerge as the dominant choice, elimination of the organization becomes progressively more difficult as the necessary changes in relative returns to membership increase at an increasing rate.

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Minniti
    • 1
  1. 1.Skidmore College

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