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Are Gangs a Substitute for Legitimate Employment? Investigating the Impact of Labor Market Effects on Gang Affiliation

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  • Alan Seals

Abstract

This paper adds to the literature estimates of local labor market effects on gang participation. The local unemployment rate is a proxy for the availability of legitimate employment. I use data from the 1997 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97) to model the probability of gang involvement. The effect of the local unemployment rate is statistically significant and positive. Robustness checks reveal gang participation of individuals less than sixteen years of age (the legal minimum age for most jobs) is not responsive to the local unemployment rate. However, the effect of the local unemployment rate on sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds is statistically significant and positive, which suggests juvenile gang participation depends on economic incentives. Gang participation among individuals with lower ASVAB scores is more sensitive to the local unemployment rate. Copyright 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Kyklos.

Volume (Year): 62 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (08)
Pages: 407-425

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Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:62:y:2009:i:3:p:407-425

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Cited by:
  1. Seals, Richard Alan & Stern, Liliana V., 2013. "Cognitive ability and the division of labor in urban ghettos: Evidence from gang activity in U.S. data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 140-149.
  2. Skarbek, David, 2012. "Prison gangs, norms, and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 96-109.
  3. Panu Poutvaara & Mikael Priks, 2011. "Unemployment and gang crime: can prosperity backfire?," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 259-273, September.

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