Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Origins of the Sicilian Mafia: The Market for Lemons

  • Arcangelo Dimico (a1), Alessia Isopi (a2) and Ola Olsson (a3)
Abstract

In this article, we study the emergence of an extractive institution that hampered economic development in Italy for more than a century: the Sicilian mafia. Since its first appearance in the late 1800s, the reasons behind the rise of the Sicilian mafia have remained a puzzle. In this article, we argue that the mafia arose as a response to an exogenous shock in the demand for oranges and lemons, following Lind's discovery in the late eighteenth century that citrus fruits cured scurvy. More specifically, we claim that mafia appeared in locations where producers made high profits from citrus production for overseas export. Operating in an environment with a weak rule of law, the mafia protected citrus production from predation and acted as intermediaries between producers and exporters. Using original data from a parliamentary inquiry in 1881–1886 on Sicilian towns, the Damiani Inquiry, we show that mafia presence is strongly related to the production of oranges and lemons. The results hold when different data sources and several controls are employed.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Origins of the Sicilian Mafia: The Market for Lemons
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Origins of the Sicilian Mafia: The Market for Lemons
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Origins of the Sicilian Mafia: The Market for Lemons
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All

Special thanks to Giuliano Isopi for excellent research assistance. We gratefully acknowledge comments from Gani Aldashev, Jean-Marie Baland, Michael Bleaney, Paolo Casini, Chris Colvin, Giacomo De Luca, Stefano Fenoaltea, Halvor Mehlum, Kalle Moene, Kyriacos Neanidis, Jean-Philippe Platteau, Oleg Shchetinin, Yves Zenou, and seminar participants in Nottingham, Brown University, Gothenburg, Leuven, Birkbeck College, the EEA-ESEM meetings in Malaga, the RES Conference in Manchester, the EBHS in Manchester, Namur, Oslo, Stockholm, York, and Glasgow.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Acemoglu Daron, Verdier Thierry, and Robinson James. “Kleptocracy and Divide-and Rule: A Model of Personal Rule.” Journal of the European Economic Association 22, no. 2-3 (2004): 162–92.
Acemoglu Daron, Johnson Simon, and Robinson James. “Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-run Growth.” In Handbook of Economic Growth, Vol. 1, Part A, edited by Aghion Philippe and Durlauf Steven N. 385472. North Holland: Elsevier B.V, 2005.
Acemoglu Daron, and Robinson James. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2012.
Alongi Giuseppe. La maffia nei suoi fattori e nelle sue manifestazioni: studio sulle classi pericolose della Sicilia. Bocca Editori: Torino, 1886.
Anderson Annelise. “Organized Crime, Mafias and Governments.” In The Economics of Organized Crime, edited by Fiorentini Gianluca and Peltzman Sam, 3360. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Arlacchi Pino. Mafia Business: The Mafia Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. London: Verso, 1986.
Bandiera Oriana. “Land Reform, the Market for Protection, and the Origins of the Sicilian Mafia: Theory and Evidence.” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 19, no. 1 (2003): 218–44.
Baron Jeremy H.Sailors' Scurvy Before and After James Lind - A Reassessment.” Nutrition Reviews 67, no. 6 (2009): 315–32.
Battaglia Rosario. L'ultimo Splendore: Messina tra Rilancio e Decadenza. Rubbettino Editore, 2003.
Benigno Francesco. Ultra Pharum. Famiglie, commerci e territori nel Meridione moderno. Roma: Donzelli, 2001.
Blok Anton. The Mafia of a Sicilian Village, 1860–1960: A Study of Violent Peasant Entrepreneurs (State and Revolution). New York: Harper & Row, 1975.
Bonfadini R. Relazione della Commissione Parlamentare, Inchiesta sulle Condizioni Sociali ed Economiche della Sicilia, Roma, 1876.
Bottari Salvatore. The Port of Messina 1591–1783, Sulle onde del Mediterraneo. Proceedings of the 2nd MMHM Conference, 2006.
Buonanno Paolo, Durante Ruben, Prarolo Giovanni, et al. “Poor Institutions, Rich Mines: Resource Curse in the Origins of the Sicilian Mafia.” Economic Journal 125 (2015) 175202.
Catanzaro Raimondo. Men of Respect: A Social History of the Sicilian Mafia. New York: The Free Press, 1992.
Colajanni Napoleone. La Delinquenza della Sicilia e le sue Cause. Giornale di Sicilia, Palermo, 1885.
Colajanni Napoleone. Gli Avvenimenti di Sicilia e le Loro Cause. Remo Sandrom, Palermo, 1895.
Colajanni Napoleone. Nel regno della mafia. Remo Sandrom, Palermo, 1900.
Congdon Fors Heather, and Olsson Ola. “Endogenous Institutional Change After Independence.” European Economic Review 51, no. 8 (2007): 1896–921.
Conley Timothy, Hansen Christian B., McCulloch Robert E., et al. “A Semi-Parametric Bayesian Approach to the Instrumental Variable Problem.” Journal of Econometrics 144, no. 1 (2008): 276305.
Cutrera Antonino. La Mafia e i Mafiosi, Palermo, A Reber, 1900.
Damiani A. Atti della Giunta per l'Inchiesta Agraria e sulle Condizioni della classe Agricola, Forzani Tip. Del Senato tomo 2 fasc. 4 (Archivio Centrale Roma), 1886.
De Feo Giuseppe, and Davide De Luca Giacomo. “Mafia in the Ballot Box.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy  9, no. 3 (2017): 134–67.
Di Vita Giuseppe. Dizionario Geografico dei Comuni della Sicilia e delle Frazioni Comunali: Con Notizie Storiche, Palermo, F. Pravatà, 1906.
Dickie John. Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia. Basingstoke, U.K.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
FAO/IIASA. Global Agro-Ecological Zones (GAEZ v3.0). FAO, Rome, Italy and IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria, 2010.
FAO/IIASA Geonetwork- Geo-Spatial Data, n.d. Accessed at http://www.fao.org/geonetwork/srv/en/main.home.
Fiorentini Gianluca. “Organized Crime and Illegal Marteks.” Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche. Universita' di Bologna’ Wp 8400, Bologna, Italy, 1999.
Gambetta Diego, and Reuters Peter. “Conspiracy Among the Many: The Mafia in Legitimate Industries.” In The Economics of Organized Crime, edited by Fiorentini Gianluca and Peltzman Sam, 116–36. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Gambetta Diego. The Sicilian Mafia: The Business of Private Protection. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996.
Gambetta Diego.. Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.
Grossman Herschel I.Rival Kleptocracies: The Mafia versus the State.” In The Economics of Organized Crime, edited by Gianluca Fiorentini and Sam Peltzman, 143–60. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Hart Oliver, and Moore John. “Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation.” Econometrica 4, no. 56 (1988): 755–85.
Hess Henner. Mafia and Mafiosi: The Structure of Power. Farnborough: Saxon House, 1973.
Lupo Salvatore. Il Giardino degli Aranci, Saggi Marsilio, 1990.
Lupo Salvatore History of the Mafia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.
Mehlum Halvor, Karl Ove Moene, and Torvik Ragnar. “Institutions and the Resource Curse.” Economic Journal 116, no. 508 (2006): 120.
Monroe Will S. The Spell of Sicily: The Garden of the Meditarranean. Boston: The Page Company, 1909.
Montanelli Indro. Interview with Don Calo Vizzini. Corriere della Sera, 30 October 1949.
NASA Ocean Biology Processing Group, n.d. Accessed at http://oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov/DOCS/DistFromCoast/.
Pescosolido Guido. L'Economia Siciliana nell'Unificazione Italiana. Paper presented in the Convegno Nazionale di Studi: La Partecipazione della Sicilia al Movimento dell'Unificazione Nazionale, 2010.
Pezzino Paolo. Una certa reciprocita' di favori. Mafia e modernizzazione violenta nella Sicilia postunitaria. FrancoAngeli, 1990.
Powell Harold G. Italian Lemons and Their By-Products, Bulletin No. 160, Bureau of Plant Industry, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1908.
Putnam Robert D. Making Democracy Work: Civic Tradition in Modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.
Reuter Peter. Racketeering in Legitimate Industries: A Study in the Economics of Intimidation. Santa Monica, CA: The Rand Corporation, 1987.
Sala-i-Martin Xavier, and Subramanian Arvind. “Addressing the Natural Resource Curse: An Illustration from Nigeria.” NBER Working Paper No. 9804, Cambridge, MA, 2003.
Sonnino Sidney, and Franchetti Leopoldo. La Sicilia nel 1876, Firenze, Tip. di G. Barbera, 1877.
Skaperdas Stergios. “The Political Economy of Organized Crime: Providing Protection When the State Does Not.” Economic of Governance 2, no. 3 (2001): 173202.
Skaperdas Stergios, and Syropoulos Constantinos. “Gangs as Primitive States.” In The Economics of Organized Crime, edited by Fiorentini Gianluca and Peltzman Sam, 6181. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Stock James H., and Yogo Motohiro. “Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression.” In Identification and Inference for Econometric Models: Essays in Honor of Thomas Rothenberg, Chap. 5, edited by Andrews Donald W.K. and Stock James H., pp. 80108. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
van der Ploeg Frederick. “Natural Resources: Curse of Blessing?Journal of Economic Literature 49, no. 2 (2011): 366420.
Villari Pasquale. Lettere Meridionali, L'Opinione, 1875.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Dimico et al supplementary material
Online Appendix

 Word (1.9 MB)
1.9 MB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6461
Total number of PDF views: 2924 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 42213 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 24th November 2017 - 19th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.