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Buonanno, P., Durante, R., Prarolo, G., Vanin, P. (2015). Poor Institutions, Rich Mines: Resource Curse in the Origins of the Sicilian Mafia. Economic Journal 125: F175–F202.

With weak law-enforcement institutions, a positive shock to the value of natural resources may increase demand for private protection and opportunities for rent appropriation through extortion, favouring the emergence of mafia-type organisations. We test this hypothesis by investigating the emergence of the mafia in twentieth century Sicily, where a severe lack of state property-rights enforcement coincided with a steep rise in international demand for sulphur, Sicily's most valuable export commodity. Using historical data on the early incidence of mafia activity and on the distribution of sulphur reserves, we document that the mafia was more present in municipalities with greater sulphur availability.


Buonanno, Paolo

I am assistant professor in the Department of Economics "Hyman P. Minsky" at the University of Bergamo. I obtained my PhD in Economics at the University of Milan-Bicocca in 2003 with a thesis on education and crime. I also studied at the University of California at Berkeley where I was a...

Vanin, Paolo

Journal articles Crime and Social Sanction (with P. Buonanno and G. Pasini), Papers in Regional Science, in press Trade Protection and Industrial Structure (with F. Albornoz), The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy, 10(1) (Topics), 2010, Article 57 Does Social Capital...

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