The Long-Term Economic Impact of Criminalization in American Childhoods

Published in: Crime & Delinquency [Epub July 2018]. doi: 10.1177/0011128718787514

Posted on RAND.org on August 17, 2018

by James P. Smith

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This article documents arrest and conviction histories before age 26 years of Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) respondents using a retrospective module that I designed. I find strong positive cohort effects in rising probabilities of arrest for all demographic subgroups. This increased contact with the criminal justice system across birth cohorts was at a more rapid rate over time among Whites and women. These rising rates of arrests and convictions are associated with lower probabilities of being married, lower weeks worked, lower hourly wages, and lower family incomes during the adult years. The size of the estimated associations is quite large.

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