Crime and the Employment of Disadvantaged Youths

42 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2000 Last revised: 11 Aug 2010

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: October 1991

Abstract

This paper examines the magnitude of criminal activity among disadvantaged youths in the 1980s. It shows that a large proportion of youths who dropped out of high school, particularly black school dropouts, developed criminal records in the decade; and that those who were incarcerated in 1980 or earlier were much less likely to hold jobs than other youths over the entire decade. The magnitudes of incarceration, probation, and parole among black dropouts, in particular, suggest that crime has become an intrinsic part of the youth unemployment and poverty problem, rather than deviant behavior on the margin. Limited evidence on the returns to crime suggest that with the decline in earnings and employment for less educated young men, crime offers an increasingly attractive alternative.

Suggested Citation

Freeman, Richard B., Crime and the Employment of Disadvantaged Youths (October 1991). NBER Working Paper No. w3875. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226742

Richard B. Freeman (Contact Author)

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