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Criminal Background Checks and Recidivism: Bounding the Causal Impact

NCJ Number
International Review of Law and Economics Volume: 52 Dated: October 2017 Pages: 74-85
Date Published
October 2017
12 pages
This study estimated the effect of employment denial based on a criminal background check on recidivism outcomes for individuals with convictions who are provisionally hired in the New York State healthcare industry.

Using institutional knowledge about the New York State Department of Health's screening process, this study based structural assumptions on potential outcomes for different subsamples in study data, which partially identifies the Average Treatment Effects. The study found a 0-2.2 percentage-point increase in the likelihood of subsequent arrests caused by employment denial, with substantial heterogeneity across the sample. Specifically, the study found that the a priori highest risk individuals were most likely to be impacted by a loss of employment opportunity based on their criminal background. Policy implications of these results are discussed. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: October 1, 2017