Banner for PDRI-DevLab Fall 2023 Seminar Series: Carlos Schmidt-Padilla


PDRI-DevLab Fall 2023 Seminar Series: Carlos Schmidt-Padilla

PDRI-DevLab is hosting a Fall 2023 Seminar Series featuring its staff and affiliates.

Topic: Gangs and Development

Presenter: Carlos Schmidt-Padilla

Session Details:¬†We study how territorial control by criminal organizations affects economic development. We exploit a natural experiment in El Salvador, where these criminal organizations emerged due to an exogenous shift in American immigration policy that led to the deportation of gang leaders from the United States to El Salvador. Using a spatial regression discontinuity design that focuses on the gang-created system of borders, we find that individuals in gang-controlled neighborhoods have less material well-being, income, and education than individuals living only 50 meters away but outside of gang territory. None of these discontinuities existed before the arrival of the gangs. A key mechanism behind the results is that gangs restrict individuals’ mobility, affecting their labor-market options by preventing them from commuting to other parts of the city. The results are not determined by high rates of selective migration, differential exposure to extortion and violence, or differences in public goods provision.

For more information, reach out to


Carlos Schmidt-Padilla

Carlos Schmidt-Padilla is a Postdoctoral Fellow at both the Penn Development Research Initiative and Data Driven Discovery Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania. Using applied data science methods, his primary research agenda centers on the influence of organized crime on development and institutional stability in fragile democracies, primarily in Latin America.