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Exploration of the Determinants of Labor Market Performance for Prison Releasees

NCJ Number
P A Reid, A D Witte
Date Published
January 1980
17 pages
The determinants of two aspects of labor market performance (wages and work stability) are examined for a random sample of prison releasees.
Specifically, the two aspects investigated were the wages received on the first job after release from prison and the stability of the work record during a followup period. Wages were used as a measure of legitimate labor market opportunity, and work stability was used as a measure of job satisfaction. Information was obtained on the postrelease activities of a random sample of 641 men released from North Carolina prisons in 1969 and 1971. The activities of these men were followed for an average of 37 months after release. Since the equation for wages was found to be independent of that for work stability, a recursive model was deemed appropriate for modeling the examined facets of labor market performance. For all releasees, major determinants of the wage received on the first job after release were the industry and occupation of employment, the type of job (permanent, part-time, or seasonal), previous work history, race, marital status, and type of release. For releasees not reincarcerated during the followup period, work stability during the followup period was affected by higher wages on the first job after release, occupation, race, and area of residence. Overall, results indicate that variables suggested by the demand side of the neoclassical labor model and institutionalist labor market theories provide greater insight into the facets of labor market performance explored than do either criminological or human capital variables. The study thus indicates that programs that obtain relatively high wage jobs for persons at the time of their release from prison are likely to have unusually long-term beneficial effects. Tabular data and 28 references are provided.

Date Published: January 1, 1980