Paolo Pinotti's Research on Crime Funded by PRIN

Paolo Pinotti's Research on Crime Funded by PRIN


Paolo Pinotti, Endowed Chair in the Economic Analysis of Crime at Bocconi, is the Principal Investigator of DARKSIDE - The Dark Side of the Money: Causes and Consequences of Organized Crime and Corruption, a research project that obtained funding worth ca. €600,000 from the Italian Ministry of University and Research PRIN program.
“Crime is an inherently difficult topic to investigate,” Prof. Pinotti says, “for two obvious reasons. First, crime data are hard to interpret, as offenders do all they can to hide their actions. Second, randomized controlled trials, i.e. the most rigorous method for social research, are seldom available when studying crime, due to ethical and political concerns.” The funded research project, on the one hand, exploits rich microdata across individuals, firms, and transactions (e.g., procurement contracts), and, on the other, leverages these data together with experimental and quasi-experimental variation to achieve a credible identification of the causal effects of interest.
The PRIN funding is a collective achievement, as Gianmarco Daniele and Marco Le Moglie, two of the three Co-Investigators, also contribute to the Endowed Chair and to the CLEAN Unit, directed by Prof. Pinotti at Bocconi’s Baffi-Carefin Center. The third co-investigator is Francesco Drago, from the University of Catania.

The project includes 7 work packages:
#1. The preferences and beliefs of criminals: Evidence from Italian prisons. We know very little about the values and beliefs of prison inmates in Italy – for instance, in terms of job aspirations upon release from prison. However, such information could be tremendously helpful to reduce the high recidivism rates currently observed in Italy.
#2. Violence, economic costs, and the salience of criminal organizations. The results of a survey experiment will help us understanding how different events and different modes of communication can shape the salience and perception of this phenomenon in the public and political debate.
#3. Economic crisis, financial distress, and the capture of firms by criminal organizations. This package will contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms through which criminal organizations are able to infiltrate companies in the official sector, and which ones are more vulnerable to such infiltration.
#4. Criminal organizations, political power, and public employment. This research may bring policy implications on the design of policies that prevent organized crime’s infiltration within institutions.
#5. How do you say “plata o plomo”? Elections, corruption, and violence across countries. The project brings evidence on to the use of violence and bribes by interest groups around elections. This would help in designing adequate policies to protect institutions.
#6. The causes and consequences of dishonest politicians. First, this project will document to which extent dishonest individuals -- as measured by past criminal records -- are able to enter politics. Second, it will study the consequences of having dishonest politicians in office for extremely important outcomes affecting citizens lives, such as public health and education. Finally, the project will provide novel evidence on whether public policies – namely, random audits and temporary legislative bans on convicted politicians -- effectively succeed at preventing dishonest individuals from entering office.
#7. Family matters: Politics, procurement, and jobs in Brazil. The identification of the magnitude and the sectoral prevalence of nepotistic practices, and their responsiveness to specific policies can provide much-needed evidence-based guidance for legislation and policy design in this domain in Brazil as well as in other countries.

by Fabio Todesco
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