The Impact of Incarceration in State Prison on the Employment Prospects of Women

52 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2005

See all articles by Rosa Cho

Rosa Cho

University of Chicago

Robert LaLonde

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: October 2005

Abstract

This paper uses a unique data set constructed from two sets of administrative records to examine the relationship between incarceration and employment rates for former female state prisoners from Illinois. Our analysis indicates that although prison is associated with declining employment rates during the quarters leading up to women's incarcerations, it does not appear to harm their employment prospects later on. In the short-term, we estimate that women's post-prison employment rates are about four percentage points above expected levels. However, these employment gains do not persist and gradually fall back to pre-prison levels. But for some groups of women, including those with four or more children, those who served longer prison spells, and those who served time for person-related or drug-related offenses, we find that modestly positive employment effects that are on the order of a few percentage points persist. These results indicate that time out of the work force or diminished skills are not costs associated with incarcerating women. Nor does a prison record appear to send an undesirable signal in the labor market that reduces former female inmates' employment chances. Although incarcerated women's subsequent employment rates are very low, they do not appear to be low because of their experience in prison.

Keywords: prison, women, employment

JEL Classification: J29

Suggested Citation

Cho, Rosa and LaLonde, Robert J., The Impact of Incarceration in State Prison on the Employment Prospects of Women (October 2005). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1792. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=826456

Rosa Cho

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Robert J. LaLonde (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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