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Do Teen Births Keep American Crime High?

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Author Info

  • Hunt, Jennifer

Abstract

The United States has a high teenage birth rate relative to other developed countries. Children of teenagers experience more difficult childhoods than other children and hence may be more likely subsequently to be victims or perpetrators of crimes. I assess to what extent international patterns in teenage birth rates can explain why the United States had the highest crime rates of developed countries in the 1980s and why U.S. relative crime rates subsequently fell. Using internationally comparable crime rates spanning 1989-2000, I find that assault rates are increased by an increase in the proportion of young adults who were born to a teenage mother. Intimate-partner assault, a crime most commonly occurring among young adults, is most affected. Variation in teenage birth rates fully explain the initially high U.S. assault level and prevented the subsequent fall in assault rate from being 20 percent greater. I also present evidence on larceny and burglary.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 49 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 533-66

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:y:2006:v:49:i:2:p:533-66

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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Cited by:
  1. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme & Marieke Schnabel, 2012. "The Effect of Education Policy on Crime: An Intergenerational Perspective," NBER Working Papers 18145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nilsson, J Peter, 2008. "Does a pint a day affect your child’s pay? The effect of prenatal alcohol exposure on adult outcomes," Working Paper Series 2008:4, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  3. Heckman, James J., 2008. "Schools, Skills, and Synapses," IZA Discussion Papers 3515, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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