The Economics of Gang Colours

August 7, 2011 in Daily Bulletin

Why do gangs have gang colours? Wouldn’t that just make it easier for the police to identify them? Andrew Mell, an Oxford Economist, decided to find out.

Perhaps the most interesting argument in his paper is that prominent gang colours increase the likelihood that other people will want to do business with them because it makes it more difficult for them to operate. A gang’s success despite their handicap is seen by potential business partners as a signal of their reliability and effectiveness. The author further argues that this would mean that increased penalties for gang activities around certain areas such as school zones might be counter-productive as they might encourage gang activity in those areas because the risk of operating is greater.

Source: University of Oxford

Via: The Wall Street Journal, William Dearden