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KidnapInside the Ransom Business$
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Anja Shortland

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198815471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198815471.001.0001

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Understanding Patterns of Kidnapping

Understanding Patterns of Kidnapping

(p.17) 2 Understanding Patterns of Kidnapping

Anja Shortland

Oxford University Press

Protection theory predicts that if a society is capable of producing surpluses, people specialize into production, trade, and protection. The protector facilitates production and trade by safeguarding people, enforcing property rights, and adjudicating disputes and is paid for providing these services. Protection can be provided by states, rebels, or mafias: tax and extortion are often closely related in practice. Why would protectors kidnap citizens in their own territory? This chapter shows that kidnapping is disequilibrium behaviour: abductions occur when citizens (or visitors) refuse to pay protection money, do not know who to pay, or how to pay their protector, and when protectors need more information to price their services. Most kidnaps occur in disputed territories, where there is a disequilibrium in the market for protection.

Keywords:   protection theory, predation, state formation, mafias, revenue maximization, tax, extortion, disequilibrium behaviour

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