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Employment, Age, Race, and Crime: A Labor Theoretic Investigation

NCJ Number
H L Votey
Date Published
January 1991
31 pages
The fundamental objective of this paper has been to reinvestigate the relationship between employment and crime, while taking account of deterrence, age, and race effects.
The data, a sample of Brooklyn arrestees, were collected by the Vera Institute of Justice simply to explore, with individual data, the relationship between employment and crime. In this research, a labor theoretic formulation is used incorporating a model that views the problem as one of rational choice between legitimate work and participation in crime. Factors affecting the diminution of crime participation with age are investigated. Changes at age 18 in economic opportunities and in deterrence effects from moving from juvenile to adult status are found to have a significant impact on crime participation. The results are important because they tend to confirm official crime report data and results found in earlier studies using self-report data, that is, (1) when the process is appropriately modeled, previous contacts with police are found to cause some experimenters with crime to become desisters; (2) prior work experience and economic opportunities tend to reinforce this tendency to desist; and (3) even though blacks are found to have a greater prevalence of involvement in crime, when the data are standardized for all of the aforementioned factors and educational attainment, there is no significant difference between blacks and whites in their tendency to recidivate. 24 references (Author abstract)

Date Published: January 1, 1991