During the 1990s crack cocaine boom, the image of the millionaire crack dealer implanted itself on the public consciousness, write Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, author of the new book “Freakonomics,” in the Los Angeles Times. Anyone who spent time around crack-selling gangs might have noticed something odd: A great many crack dealers still lived at home with their moms. Why was that?
Sudhir Venkatesh, a University of Chicago graduate student, discovered the answer. Studying a gang’s financial transactions for six years, he found that it took in revenues of about $32,000 a mont and cost about $14,000 to operate. The gang leader had an annual salary of $100,000, but
that applied to about 120 people. Thousands of others earned about $3.30 an hour, meaning they had no choice but to live at home.