On the Historical and Geographic Origins of the Sicilian Mafia

23 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2012

See all articles by Paolo Buonanno

Paolo Buonanno

University of Bergamo

Ruben Durante

Catalan Institution of Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA); Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Department of Economics and Business, Students

Giovanni Prarolo

University of Bologna; University of Milan - Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano (LdA)

Paolo Vanin

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 23, 2012

Abstract

This research attempts to explain the large differences in the early diffusion of the mafia across different areas of Sicily. We advance the hypothesis that, after the demise of Sicilian feudalism, the lack of publicly provided property-right protection from widespread banditry favored the development of a florid market for private protection and the emergence of a cartel of protection providers: the mafia. This would especially be the case in those areas (prevalently concentrated in the Western part of the island) characterized by the production and commercialization of sulphur and citrus fruits, Sicily’s most valuable export goods whose international demand was soaring at the time. We test this hypothesis combining data on the early incidence of mafia across Sicilian municipalities and on the distribution of sulphur reserves, land suitability for the cultivation of citrus fruits, distance from the main commercial ports, and a variety of other geographical controls. Our empirical findings provide support for the proposed hypothesis documenting, in particular, a significant impact of sulphur extraction, terrain ruggedness, and distance from Palermo’s port on mafia’s early diffusion.

Suggested Citation

Buonanno, Paolo and Durante, Ruben and Prarolo, Giovanni and Vanin, Paolo, On the Historical and Geographic Origins of the Sicilian Mafia (February 23, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2009808 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2009808

Ruben Durante

Catalan Institution of Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) ( email )

P/ Lluis Companys 23
Barcelona, 08010
Spain

Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Department of Economics and Business, Students ( email )

Barcelona
Spain

HOME PAGE: http://www.rubendurante.net

Giovanni Prarolo

University of Bologna ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, 40100
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www2.dse.unibo.it/prarolo/

University of Milan - Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano (LdA) ( email )

Via P. Amedeo 34
Milano, Mi 20122
Italy

Paolo Vanin

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, BO 40126
Italy
+39-0512098120 (Phone)
+39-0512098040 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/paolovanin/

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