Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Who's Who in Crime Networks: Wanted - The Key Player

Author(s): Coralio Ballester, Antoni Calvó-Armengol and Yves Zenou

Publication Date: June 2004

Keyword(s): centrality measures, crime, key group, policies and social networks

Programme Area(s): Public Economics

Abstract: Criminals are embedded in a network of relationships. Social ties among criminals are modelled by means of a graph where criminals compete for a bounty and benefit from local interactions with their neighbours. Each criminal decides in a non-cooperative way how much crime effort they will exert. We show that the Nash equilibrium crime effort of each individual is proportional to their equilibrium Bonacich-centrality in the network, thus establishing a bridge to the sociology literature on social networks. We then analyse a policy that consists of finding and getting rid of the key player, that is, the criminal who, once removed, leads to the maximum reduction in aggregate crime. We provide a geometric characterization of the key player identified with an optimal inter-centrality measure, which takes into account both a player?s centrality and their contribution to the centrality of the others. We also provide a geometric characterization of the key group, which generalizes the key player for a group of criminals of a given size. We finally endogeneize the crime participation decision, resulting in a key player policy, which effectiveness depends on the outside opportunities available to criminals.

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Bibliographic Reference

Ballester, C, Calvó-Armengol, A and Zenou, Y. 2004. 'Who's Who in Crime Networks: Wanted - The Key Player'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.