Research Political Sciences

Paolo Pinotti Awarded an ERC Grant to Study Crime

, by Fabio Todesco
The project, funded with euro 1.8 million, will study criminal phenomena in Italy, the Netherlands and the United States through quantitative tools and economic methodology

Paolo Pinotti, holder of Bocconi's Endowed Associate Professorship in Economic Analysis of Crime, funded by an anonymous individual donor, has been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant of about €1.8mln, awarded by the European Research Council, for the research project CLEAN (Clean Evidence on Dirty Deeds). With this five-year project Prof. Pinotti continues his research thread on organized crime studied through quantitative tools and methodologies taken from economics.

The ERC-funded project consists of four activities, which use very accurate micro-data.

The first activity analyses data on infiltration in public procurement for road works in Italy, made available (in anonymous form) by the intelligence services and wants to establish which procurement mechanisms are the most effective, balancing the advantages of discretionary procedures in terms of efficiency with the disadvantages in terms of possible politicians' opportunistic behavior. The research will be conducted with Francesco Decarolis, Avvocato Giovanni Agnelli Associate Professor in Economicsat Bocconi, and Ray Fismanand Silvia Vannutellifrom Boston University.

A similar logic shapes the second project, which takes advantage of the changes approved in 1999 to an Italian program of public investment subsidies to private firms in less developed regions (Law 488/92), which largely correspond to those with the largest presence of organized crime. The funding, aimed at the creation of new jobs, was allocated for two years according to objective criteria only. For the following years, the criterion of regional priorities, established by local politicians, was added. «It will be interesting to observe whether the additional criterion improved or worsened the results of the law. That is, whether the positive effect of politicians' knowledge of local needs or the negative effect of the temptation to favor colluded parties prevailed».

With the third project we move abroad, to the Netherlands, to study the relations between local and foreign organized crime groups, thanks to the existence of a very detailed dataset. Olivier Marie (Erasmus School of Economics in Rotterdam)and Jerome Adda, economist and Dean for Research at Bocconi, will also participate in the study.

The fourth study, historical in nature and carried out in collaboration with another Bocconi economist, Massimo Anelli, andMarco Tabellini from Harvard Business School, investigates the effects of supply and demand of criminal skills in the development of Mafia in some cities of the United States, since the 1920s' Prohibition. «Outlawing alcohol created the demand for people able to manage an illicit traffic, while the emigration to the United States of numerous members of the Sicilian Mafia, in the years in which the repressive activity of the fascist regime was more aggressive, created supply. We shall evaluate whether Mafia organizations have developed more rapidly in cities with Italian immigration and whether effects on economic and civil outcomes, such as the diffusion of corruption, persist in the long run».