Shawn D. Bushway

Shawn D. Bushway

Adjunct Policy Researcher; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School

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Shawn D. Bushway is an economist and criminologist at RAND, a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and a professor at the University at Albany (SUNY) where he received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship. He is a fellow of the American Society of Criminology.

Bushway was one of the first economists to become a professor in the field of criminology, which defines itself as the interdisciplinary study of crime and the criminal justice system. Together with Peter Reuter, he founded what has become the NBER summer workshop on Economics of Crime, the largest annual conference in the growing subfield of economics and crime.

He has researched a wide range of topics, including the causal relationship between work and crime, the use of discretion by actors in the criminal justice system, and the process of desistance. Occasionally, the areas intersect, such as his collection of studies on the appropriate role of criminal history records in employment decisions.

This work forms the basis for RAND's Reset Project. On the basis of his research, Bushway has provided testimony to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Maryland Public Service Commission and served as founding member of the New York State Permanent Commission on Sentencing Reform.

Bushway has a joint Ph.D. in public policy and economics from Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University, which recently recognized him as a distinguished alumnus.


Ph.D. in public policy analysis and political economy, Carnegie Mellon University; B.S. in mathematics, University of Notre Dame

Selected Work

  • Lucy Sorensen, Shawn Bushway and Elizabeth Gifford, "Getting Tough: The Effects of Discretional Principal Discipline on Student Outcomes," Education Finance and Policy (forthcoming)
  • Audrey Hickert, Shawn Bushway, Paul Nieuwbeerta, and Anja Dirkzwager, "Confinement as a Two-State Turning Point: Do Change in Identity or Social Structure Predict Subsequent Changes in Criminal Activity," Criminology (forthcoming)
  • Greg Ridgeway, Ruth Moyer and Shawn Bushway, "Sentencing Scorecards: Reducing Racial Disparities in Prison Sentences at their Source," Criminology and Public Policy, 19(4), 2020
  • Shawn Bushway and Nidhi Kalra, "A Policy Review of Employer's Access to Conviction Records," Annual Review of Criminology, 4, 2021
  • David Harding, Jeffrey Morenoff, Anh Nguyen, Shawn Bushway and Ingrid Binswanger, "A Natural Experiment Study of the Effects of Imprisonment on Violence in the Community," Nature: Human Behavior, 3, 2019
  • Megan Denver, Justin Pickett and Shawn Bushway, "The Language of Stigmatization and the Mark of Violence: Experimental Evidence on the Social Construction and Use of Criminal Record Stigma," Criminology, 55, 2017
  • Shi Yan and Shawn Bushway, "Plea Discounts or Trial Penalties? Making Sense of the Trial-Plea Sentence Disparities," Justice Quarterly, 35, 2018
  • Yinzhi Shen, Shawn Bushway, Lucy Sorensen, and Herb Smith, "Locking up My Generation: Cohort Differences in Prison Spells over the Life Course," Criminology, 54, 2020

Authored by Shawn D. Bushway

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