Discussion paper

DP18146 Organized Crime, Violence and Support for the State

Citizens’ support is crucial to effectively combat organized crime. Contrary to prior studies
that have identified a negative correlation between victimization and trust in the state, we find
that exposinga representative sample of 6,000 individuals in Italy to journalistic images of organized
crime-related violence increases trust towards institutions and state performance. We attribute this
finding to a "rally around the flag" effect, rather than to the decrease in homicide rates occurring
over the last decades – in fact, individuals wrongly believe that homicides have increased during such
period. Updating beliefs on the real trend in violence does not appear to modify this relationship.
Overall, these findings highlight how exposure to violence, especially when linked to organized groups,
might strengthen state support.


Campedelli, G, G Daniele, A Martinangeli and P Pinotti (2023), ‘DP18146 Organized Crime, Violence and Support for the State‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18146. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18146