Corruzione ed Economia: the cost of corruption on the Italian economy

Two questions: Have you heard of the mafia? And did you think of Italy? The economy of a country is how it presents itself to the rest of the world. Italy has one of the worst economies in the EU. It is also notoriously known to be home to the mafia, one of the most corrupt organised crime gangs in the world. Economist Peter F. Drucker said, ‘the ultimate resource in economic development is its people’ - but what if your people are amongst the most corrupt and dangerous in the world?

With the Italian Mafia, one of the most developed criminal organisations in the world, it would be surprising to think this has little effect on its economy. The Rand Corporation says that corruption costs the economy nearly 990 billion euros per annum. To put this into context, it would cost 11 billion USD (just over 9 billion euros) to end world hunger. When we put it this way, the effects of corruption on the economy are hard to ignore.

Transparency International, who publish annual statistics about corruption, agree that it is the country’s worst hit by Europe’s debt crisis that is also the most corrupt. Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece all hold the lowest scores in their annual index - meaning that they have high levels of corruption.

75% of Europeans believe that corruption is widespread and is increasing throughout the continent. It may come as no surprise that an annual survey has consistently found many regard Italy as the most corrupt country in the Eurozone, ranking Saudi Arabia and Rwanda and just below Malta.

It was the ‘Mafia Wars’ of the late 1970s that saw the rise of corruption in Italy. While many often think of the Mafia as one large organisation, it is instead now used as a colloquial term to describe most organised crime gangs.

The most well-known Italian organised crime group is the Sicilian Mafia, often called the Cosa Nostra by its members. The most well-known Italian organised crime group is the Sicilian Mafia, often called the Cosa Nostra by its members. Overall, there are four Italian Mafia-type organisations. These include the Sicilian Mafia, the Neapolitan Camorra, the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, and the Apulian Organised Crime. Each have similar traits but specific individual characteristics that make them distinct from one another.

Particularly across Calabria, a region in southern Italy, it is mainly businesses involved in construction and public work which are frequently controlled by gangs. Despite arrests and prosecutions continuously being made, the Mafia is very adaptable to societal concerns and often prey on the vulnerable, viewing economic and societal crises as sources of opportunity.

You can read the rest of this article in our November issue