April 15, 2008

The "Freakonomics" of Inner-City Gangs

Steven Levitt, famous author of Freakonomics, talks about the economics of the Gangster Disciples A researcher from the University of Chicago, (now Harvard), sociologist Sudhir A. Venkatesh, lived with the Gangster Disciples, and found out most intimate details of the gang (and now has a new book detailing his experiences). Over a four-year period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a former gang member kept careful records of his gang's profits, passing the information to Venkatesh on looseleaf sheets copied from the gang ledger. Levitt then created an economic model based on the gang's general expenses and its revenue from drug dealing and membership dues. For safety reasons, Levitt and Venkatesh chose to keep confidential their sources and the now-defunct gang's whereabouts and members. What you will find is the Gangster Disciples were run much like a corporation, most of the profits went to those at the top of the organization.

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