Gang Rule: Understanding and Countering Criminal Governance

74 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2021 Last revised: 3 Jul 2022

See all articles by Christopher Blattman

Christopher Blattman

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Gustavo Duncan

Universidad EAFIT

Benjamin Lessing

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Santiago Tobon

Universidad EAFIT

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2021

Abstract

As in many cities, gangs in Medellín provide order and collect “taxes.” Why do gangs govern civilians? Some argue that criminal and state rule are substitutes. Hence, increasing state presence should crowd out gangs. But they could also be complements. States produce growth and general demand for governance. Also, gangs can deter state entry by keeping neighborhoods orderly. We exploit border discontinuities to show that increases in state presence raised gang rule. The data suggest that gangs reacted strategically, preserving order to keep the state out. Criminal groups govern millions, and our results help explain these patterns emerge and persist.

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Suggested Citation

Blattman, Christopher and Duncan, Gustavo and Lessing, Benjamin and Tobon, Santiago, Gang Rule: Understanding and Countering Criminal Governance (February 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w28458, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3785793

Christopher Blattman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Gustavo Duncan

Universidad EAFIT

Carrera 49 N° 7 sur – 50
Bogotá, 00000
Colombia

Benjamin Lessing

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Santiago Tobon

Universidad EAFIT ( email )

Carrera 49 No. 7 South - 50
Bogota
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://www.santiagotobon.co

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