, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 123-153

Employment, age, race, and crime: A labor theoretic investigation

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Abstract

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, was 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 with official crime report data, results found in earlier studies using self-report data, i.e., (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, (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.