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Effects of Contradictory Signals on Post-Prison Labor Market Outcomes

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $91,465)

The applicant proposes to conduct a study on the impact of a criminal record on employment chances. They will study this likelihood by deploying a field experiment with fictitious applications for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) positions in California, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, and New York. These states were chosen for their incarceration rates and ban-the-box laws that issue prohibitions when prospective employers can ask an applicant about a criminal history. The student proposes to collect 1,500 HVAC job postings across the five states. They will use an established protocol for randomly administering fictitious applicant profiles, including HVAC and GED certificates gained while in prison or outside of a facility. The research design entails treatment and three different controls. Treatment applicants have two years of HVAC work experience from prison and one year of maintenance experience. Control A has one year of maintenance experience and two years of HVAC work experience. Control B has three years of maintenance-related work experience from prison. Control C also has three years of maintenance-related work experience from a local company. The work histories of applicants without criminal records are concurrent with the in-prison work experience of the other applicants. The student will also modify HVAC certification and race through the name of the prospective fictitious applicant. Primary outcomes are nonresponse from a prospective employer, a negative response, request for an interview, and request for more information. The protocol also includes interviews with 50 formerly incarcerated individuals and 50 employers. The applicant plans to disseminate findings at conferences, publish policy briefs and op-eds, and host podcasts.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 18, 2020