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Searching For Work with a Criminal Record

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  • Smith, Sandra Susan
  • Broege, Nora C. R.
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    Abstract

    To date, researchers have been very attentive to how the stigma of criminality informs employers’ hiring decisions, and, in the process, diminishes the employment opportunities afforded to jobseekers so stigmatized. Few researchers, however, have investigated the extent to which criminal records also shape jobseekers’ search strategies in ways that either attenuate or amplify the effects of their negative credentials. We fill this gap in the literature by investigating how arrest, conviction, and incarceration affect the scope of jobseekers’ search efforts as well as the specific methods they deploy. We then examine the extent to which gaps in job search success can be attributed to stigmatized jobseekers’ search strategies. Analysis of the NLSY97 reveals that arrestees and former prisoners (but not ex-convicts) are disadvantaged both by the scope of their search efforts and by the specific methods they use. Arrestees are less likely than non-offenders to find work during the search process because they use fewer search methods, and because they over-invest in ineffective methods while under-investing in more effective methods. Although former prisoners are also disadvantaged by over- and under-investing, we primarily attribute their lower odds of search success to the differential impacts of their search strategies. Even when the scope and nature of their searches mirror those of non-offenders, their searches are less likely to end successfully. By bringing “search†into debates on punishment and inequality, we provide a new and complementary way to understand how a criminal record negatively affects jobseekers’ chances of finding work.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley in its series Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series with number qt7d56c799.

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    Date of creation: 05 Mar 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt7d56c799

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    Web page: http://www.escholarship.org/repec/iir_iirwps/
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    Related research

    Keywords: Social and Behavioral Sciences; Criminal record; job search methods; job search scope; job search success; employment; network search; labor market intermediaries; going-it-alone; race and gender;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    References

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    1. Peter R. Mueser & Carolyn J. Heinrich & Kenneth Troske, 2003. "Welfare to Temporary Work: Implications for Labor Market Outcomes," Working Papers 0308, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
    2. Susan N. Houseman & Arne L. Kalleberg & George A. Erickcek, 2001. "The Role of Temporary Help Employment in Tight Labor Markets," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 01-73, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    3. Ours, J.C. van, 1994. "Matching Unemployed and Vacancies at the Public Employment Office," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-142173, Tilburg University.
    4. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1997. "The Growth of Temporary Services Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
    5. Blau, David M & Robins, Philip K, 1990. "Job Search Outcomes for the Employed and Unemployed," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 637-55, June.
    6. Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "The effects of criminality and conviction on the labor market status of young British offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 109-126, January.
    7. David H. Autor, 2001. "Why Do Temporary Help Firms Provide Free General Skills Training?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1409-1448, November.
    8. Jonathan M. Thomas, 1997. "Public employment agencies and unemployment spells: Reconciling the experimental and nonexperimental evidence," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(4), pages 667-683, July.
    9. van Ours, Jan C, 1994. "Matching Unemployed and Vacancies at the Public Employment Office," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 37-54.
    10. Susan N. Houseman & Anne E. Polivka, 2000. "The Implications of Flexible Staffing Arrangements for Job Stability," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: David Neumark (ed.), On the Job: Is Long-Term Employment a Thing of the Past?, pages 427-462 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
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