Organized crime satisfies a demand for necessary social services in the absence of effective government institutions. This paper examines the rise of the Sicilian mafia. Using system dynamics, we model this system and test various policies to determine what factors have the greatest impact on mafia power. Based on the experiments, the most effective policies for reducing mafia power are those that decrease the demand for private protection services by reducing the threat of banditry in society, and not those policies that act against the mafia directly. We also examine historical examples of other mafia- type organizations and discover that our findings apply not just to Sicily, but also to other societies including present-day Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sardell, J., Pavlov, O. V., & Saeed, K. (2009). Economic Origins of the Mafia and Patronage System in Sicily. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2983507
*denotes a WPI undergraduate student author