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On January 10, BFI hosted Chris Blattman, Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies, Harris School of Public Policy, and Co-Director of BFI’s Development Economics Initiative, for a Friedman Forum lecture on the Gangs of Medellín, exploring the industrial organization and political economy of organized crime. The Friedman Forum series offers students an opportunity for informal discussions with prominent economists.

Criminal organizations are clandestine, and we know little about the market structure, competition, performance management, labor markets, community relations, or governance of these firms. Leveraging 3 years of data collection in Medellín, Colombia, including repeated interviews with senior and middle-ranking members of gangs and mafias, and city-wide representative surveys and administrative data, Prof. Blattman’s research sheds new light on the ways organized crime functions both within organizations and as a governing force in the larger community.