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Crime and Circumstance: The Effects of Infant Health Shocks on Fathers' Criminal Activity

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  • Hope Corman
  • Kelly Noonan
  • Nancy E. Reichman
  • Ofira Schwartz-Soicher
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    Abstract

    Few studies in the economics literature have linked individuals' criminal behavior to changes in their personal circumstances. Life shocks, such as natural or personal disasters, could reduce or sever a person's connections to his/her family, job, or community. With fewer connections, crime may become a more attractive option. This study addresses the question of whether an exogenous shock in life circumstances affects criminal activity. Specifically, we estimate the effects of the birth of a child with a random and serious health problem (versus the birth of a healthy infant) on the likelihood that the child's father becomes or remains involved in illegal activities. Controlling for the father's pre-birth criminal activity, we find that the shock of having a child with a serious health problem increases both the father's post-birth conviction and incarceration by 1 to 8 percentage points, depending on the measure of infant health used.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12754.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12754

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    1. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2003. "Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration, and Juvenile Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1560-1577, December.
    2. Amanda Geller & Irwin Garfinkel & Bruce Western, 2006. "The Effects of Incarceration on Employment and Wages An Analysis of the Fragile Families Survey," Working Papers 932, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    3. Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman, 2005. "New Fathers' Labor Supply: Does Child Health Matter?," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(s1), pages 1399-1417.
    4. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "Recent immigrants: Unexpected implications for crime and incarceration," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(4), pages 654-679, July.
    5. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
    6. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "An Economic Approach to Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 437-458, November.
    7. Hope Corman & Naci Mocan, 2002. "Carrots, Sticks and Broken Windows," NBER Working Papers 9061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Lemieux, Thomas & Fortin, Bernard & Frechette, Pierre, 1994. "The Effect of Taxes on Labor Supply in the Underground Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 231-54, March.
    9. Grogger, Jeff, 1998. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-91, October.
    10. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
    11. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Policeon Crime," NBER Working Papers 4991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
    13. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-83, April.
    14. Kristin Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2005. "Why are immigrants' incarceration rates so low? evidence on selective immigration, deterrence, and deportation," Working Paper Series WP-05-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    15. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Demand for Sons: Evidence from Divorce, Fertility, and Shotgun Marriage," NBER Working Papers 10281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Nancy Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan, 2004. "Effects of child health on parents’ relationship status," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 569-584, August.
    17. Sherman Folland, 2006. "Value of life and behavior toward health risks: an interpretation of social capital," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(2), pages 159-171.
    18. Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
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