Incarceration of African American Men and the Impacts on Women and Children
93 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2020 Last revised: 23 Feb 2021
Date Written: April 29, 2020
This paper investigates the causal effects of black male incarceration on black women’s marriage and labor market outcomes, and black children’s family structure and long-run economic outcomes. To establish causality, I construct an instrumental variable for the incarceration rate, which parameterizes plausibly exogenous changes in sentencing policies across states and over years. I find that black male incarceration reduces black women’s marriage but increases employment for more-educated women. It also increases out-of-wedlock births and reduces black children’s educational attainment. Notably, increasing incarceration due to harsher sentencing policies that (i) incarcerate more arrestees or (ii) induce longer sentences has different effects.
Keywords: Mass Incarceration, Sentencing Policy, Marriage Market, Children
JEL Classification: J12, J13, K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation