IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Economic Uncertainty, Parental Selection, and the Criminal Activity of the 'Children of the Wall'


  • Arnaud Chevalier
  • Olivier Marie


We study the link between parental selection and children criminality in a new context. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany experienced an unprecedented temporary drop in fertility driven by economic uncertainty. We exploit this natural experiment to estimate that the children from these (smaller) cohorts are 40 percent more likely to commit crimes. We show that women who gave birth at this period were negatively selected. Investigation of the underlying mechanisms reveals that emotional attachment and risk attitudes play important roles in the fertility-crime relationship. Finally, results for siblings support a causal interpretation of our findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Arnaud Chevalier & Olivier Marie, 2013. "Economic Uncertainty, Parental Selection, and the Criminal Activity of the 'Children of the Wall'," CESifo Working Paper Series 4462, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4462

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gabriella Conti & Christopher Hansman & James J. Heckman & Matthew F. X. Novak & Angela Ruggiero & Stephen J. Suomi, 2012. "Primate Evidence on the Late Health Effects of Early Life Adversity," NBER Working Papers 18002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gary Solon & Steven J. Haider & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2015. "What Are We Weighting For?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 301-316.
    3. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420.
    4. Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the "Marginal Child"?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 263-291.
    5. Doyle, O. & Harmon, C. & Heckman, J.J. & Logue, C,; & Moon, S.H., 2013. "Measuring Investment in Human Capital Formation: An Experimental Analysis of Early Life Outcomes," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 13/18, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    6. Konrad B. Burchardi & Tarek A. Hassan, 2013. "The Economic Impact of Social Ties: Evidence from German Reunification," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(3), pages 1219-1271.
    7. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    8. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Jonathan Gruber & Phillip B. Levine & Douglas Staiger, 2009. "Abortion and Selection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 124-136, February.
    9. Randi Hjalmarsson & Matthew J. Lindquist, 2012. "Like Godfather, Like Son: Exploring the Intergenerational Nature of Crime," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(2), pages 550-582.
    10. Christian Schmitt, 2012. "Geburten in Ost- und Westdeutschland: erleichtert eine hohe Risikobereitschaft die Entscheidung für ein Kind?," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 79(11), pages 18-23.
    11. John J. Donohue, III & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    12. Sumon Kumar Bhaumik & Jeffrey Nugent, 2011. "Real options and demographic decisions: empirical evidence from East and West Germany," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(21), pages 2739-2749.
    13. Alberto Alesina & Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, 2007. "Goodbye Lenin (or Not?): The Effect of Communism on People," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1507-1528, September.
    14. Sandner, Malte, 2013. "Effects of Early Childhood Intervention on Child Development and Early Skill Formation. Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-518, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    15. Charles, Kerwin Kofi & Stephens, Melvin, Jr, 2006. "Abortion Legalization and Adolescent Substance Use," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 481-505, October.
    16. Leonardo Bursztyn & Davide Cantoni, 2016. "Tear in the Iron Curtain: The Impact of Western Television on Consumption Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(1), pages 25-41, March.
    17. Sen Anindya, 2007. "Does Increased Abortion Lead to Lower Crime? Evaluating the Relationship between Crime, Abortion, and Fertility," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-38, September.
    18. Michael Weinhardt & Jürgen Schupp, 2011. "Multi-Itemskalen im SOEP Jugendfragebogen," Data Documentation 60, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    19. Jennifer Hunt, 2006. "Staunching Emigration from East Germany: Age and the Determinants of Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(5), pages 1014-1037, September.
    20. Christopher L. Foote & Christopher F. Goetz, 2008. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 407-423.
    21. Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2006. "The Impact of an Abortion Ban on Socioeconomic Outcomes of Children: Evidence from Romania," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 744-773, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Huebener, Mathias & Marcus, Jan, 2017. "Compressing instruction time into fewer years of schooling and the impact on student performance," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 1-14.
    2. Kamila Cygan-Rehm & Regina T. Riphahn, 2014. "Teenage pregnancies and births in Germany: patterns and developments," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(28), pages 3503-3522, October.

    More about this item


    crime; parental selection; fertility decision; economic uncertainty; risk attitude;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4462. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Klaus Wohlrabe). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.