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Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration and Juvenile Crime

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  • Brian A. Jacob
  • Lars Lefgren

Abstract

This paper examines the short-term effect of school on juvenile crime. To do so, we bring together daily measures of criminal activity and detailed school calendar information from 29 jurisdictions across the country, and use the plausibly exogenous variation generated by teacher in-service days to estimate the school-crime relationship. We find that the level of property crime committed by juveniles decreases by 14 percent on days when school is in session, but that the level of violent crime increases by 28 percent on such days. These results do not appear to be driven by inflated reporting of crime on school days or substitution of crime across days. Our findings suggest that incapacitation and concentration influence juvenile crime - when juveniles are not engaged in supervised activities, they are more likely to engage in certain anti-social behaviors; at the same time, the increase in interactions associated with school attendance leads to more interpersonal conflict and violence. These results underscore the social nature of violent crime and suggest that youth programs - particularly those with no educational component such as midnight basketball or summer concerts - may entail important tradeoffs in terms of their effects on juvenile crime.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9653.

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Date of creation: Apr 2003
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Publication status: published as Jacob, Brian A. and Lars Lefgren. "Are Idle Hands The Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration, And Juvenile Crime," American Economic Review, 2003, v93(5,Dec), 1560-1577.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9653

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  1. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About It?," NBER Working Papers 5451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-38, July.
  3. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1995. "The Effect of Arrests on the Employment and Earnings of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 51-71, February.
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  6. Grogger, Jeff, 1998. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-91, October.
  7. Joel Waldfogel, 1994. " The Effect of Criminal Conviction on Income and the Trust "Reposed in the Workmen"," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(1), pages 62-81.
  8. Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Crime and the Employment of Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Anderson, David A, 1999. "The Aggregate Burden of Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 611-42, October.
  10. 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.
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  12. H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 1999. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 7405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Lochner, L., 1999. "Education, Work, and Crime: Theory and Evidence," RCER Working Papers 465, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  14. Steven D. Levitt & Lance Lochner, 2001. "The Determinants of Juvenile Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 327-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jeffrey Grogger, 1997. "Local Violence and Educational Attainment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(4), pages 659-682.
  16. Alejandro Gaviria & Steven Raphael, 2001. "School-Based Peer Effects And Juvenile Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 257-268, May.
  17. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
  18. Grogger, Jeff, 1992. "Arrests, Persistent Youth Joblessness, and Black/White Employment Differentials," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 100-106, February.
  19. Lott, John Jr., 1990. "The effect of conviction on the legitimate income of criminals," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 381-385, December.
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