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Dr Anja Shortland on 'The Economics of Kidnapping'

  • Adam Smith Institute 23 Great Smith Street London United Kingdom (map)

Dr Anja Shortland, Professor in Political Economy at Kings College London, will speak about her latest book—Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business—in which she explores the economics of kidnapping around the world.

Millions of people work, live, and travel in high-risk countries; very few are kidnapped and, of those that are, almost all come home safely - how can this be?

Anja Shortland begins her economic analysis of the ransom business by looking at it from the kidnapper’s point of view. Abducting people is relatively easy but how much is your hostage worth; how do you negotiate a significant ransom; and, most of all, how do you conclude the deal without being caught?

Kidnap is not the violent, chaotic, and ungovernable crime that it might appear. Shortland reveals for the first time the powerful private governance system created by Lloyd’s special risk insurers that takes control in transnational hostage situations to safely and cheaply retrieve kidnap victims.

Based on extensive interviews with those who deal with kidnapping worldwide – insurers, security consultants, victims’ employers and families, and professional negotiators on both sides - plus a full transcript of a pirate ransom negotiation, this is a compelling account of a hidden world.

Anja Shortland is Professor in Political Economy at Kings College London. Anja was an Engineering and Economics undergraduate at Oxford and then did her Masters and Ph.D. in International Relations at the LSE. Before King’s she worked as a lecturer in Economics at Leicester, a Reader in Economics at Brunel University and as a consultant to the World Bank. Her research is in the areas of institutional economics and the economics of crime.

She works on the governance of tricky markets, such as hostages, fine art, and cultural property. Her book Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business was published by OUP in 2019.

We open doors at 6pm and the talk itself will begin at 6.30pm, with a Q&A session taking place after the lecture at approximately 7:15pm.