Why Do so Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About it?

35 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 1996 Last revised: 9 May 2000

See all articles by Richard B. Freeman

Richard B. Freeman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Edinburgh - School of Social and Political Studies; Harvard University; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)

Date Written: February 1996

Abstract

This paper shows that participation in crime and involvement with the criminal justice system has reached extraordinary levels among young men. With approximately 2 percent as many men incarcerated as in the labor force, the crime rate should have plummeted. It didn't. Evidence suggests that the depressed labor market for low skill American workers contributed to the continued high level of crime by less educated men, despite incapacitation and the deterrent effect of imprisonment. The costs of incarceration are such that even marginally effective prevention policies can be socially desirable.

Suggested Citation

Freeman, Richard B., Why Do so Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About it? (February 1996). NBER Working Paper No. w5451. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=10140

Richard B. Freeman (Contact Author)

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