Tag Archives: property rights

Economic Origins of the Sicilian Mafia

During the nineteenth century, Sicily underwent a series of political and land reforms that led to dismantling of large land ownership and culminated in the unification with the Italian state in 1861. But the new Italian government was ineffective at enforcing the rule of law on the island. Banditry and a general sense of lawlessness proliferated. In that environment, the mafia emerged as a private response to the inadequate protection by the state. The mafia offered private protection from bandits to landowners who could not rely on protection and enforcement of property rights by the state.

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