Why Did People Become Pirates?

Piracy, like many other crimes, is one of opportunity. Therefore, many pirates choose this activity because they find themselves in areas where law enforcement is at a minimum and where the prospective spoils of their activity are maximized.

Piracy boasts a number of possible advantages to would-be criminals. Firstly, pirates don't incur most of the production or logistical costs associated with the goods they handle. Instead, they primarily enjoy the profits. Additionally, high demand for illegal goods, such as contraband or black market items, provides pirates with a highly lucrative area of trade, often in environments where said law enforcement is weak to nonexistent.

In many areas where piracy is practiced, the local economy is stagnant, particularly in developing parts of the world. As a result, substandard enforcement of anti-piracy policies is coupled with significant local acceptance of the practice. Put differently, pirates are not deterred by social values or expectations from participating in their profitable enterprises. In some cases, entire ports actually support piratical activities either through direct participation, tacit acceptance or indifference. Poor economies in these areas often produce chronically devastating unemployment, a fact of life that drives even more people into the ranks of piracy. Even though law enforcement is frequently weak, piracy is still a very dangerous, if not deadly, activity. Thus it can be presumed that many people do it because they are already desperate, particularly economically – a point which reinforces the likelihood that economic deprivation hastens the decision for people to engage in piracy.