Education & Family

Mafia criminals' income 'boosted by education'

Al Pacino as Michael in The Godfather Image copyright AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo
Image caption In mafia film The Godfather, Al Pacino's character, Michael, returns to the family business after attending college

Mafia criminals who are better educated tend to earn more, research suggests.

The University of Essex study of 712 Italian-American mafia members in the 1960s showed their income had risen by 7.5-8.5% per extra year of education.

Those involved in complex crimes such as charging exorbitant rates for loans or extortion saw three times the boost of those who committed violent crimes.

But, on average, the 712 left education a year earlier than other white men of a similar age in their neighbourhoods.

"Criminal careers are known to start very early and are likely to be interwoven with schooling choices," the study says.

Lead researcher Prof Giovanni Mastrobuoni said education tended to have a protective effect against getting involved with crime, but he added: "It is also true that if you decide to be a criminal it's better to be a better-educated one."

The study says: "Private returns to education exist not only in legitimate but also in the illegitimate activities that imply a sufficient degree of complexity,"

"Mobster returns (in terms of income) to a year of schooling are around 7.5 to 8.5%, compared to 9-10% for the neighbour sample.

"Moreover, for mobsters who, according to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics records, were involved in white-collar crimes that require running an illegal business (ie racketeering, loan sharking, bootlegging et cetera) we found returns to education that are about three times as large as for those who are involved in violent crimes (ie robberies, murders et cetera)."

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