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The Importance of Family Background and Neighborhood Effects as Determinants of Crime

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  • Hederos Eriksson, Karin
  • Hjalmarsson, Randi
  • Lindquist, Matthew
  • Sandberg, Anna

Abstract

We quantify the importance of family background and neighborhood effects as determinants of criminal convictions and incarceration by estimating sibling and neighborhood correlations. At the extensive margin, factors common to siblings account for 24 percent of the variation in criminal convictions and 39 percent of the variation in incarceration. At the intensive margin, these factors typically account for slightly less than half of the variation in prison sentence length and between one-third and one-half of the variation in criminal convictions, depending on crime type and gender. Neighborhood correlations, on the other hand, are quite small. We, therefore, conclude that these large sibling correlations are most likely generated by family influences and not by neighborhood influences. Further analysis shows that parental criminality and family structure contribute more to sibling similarities in crime than parental income and education or neighborhood characteristics. The lions’ share of the sibling crime correlations, however, are unexplained by these factors. Finally, sibling spacing also matters – more closely spaced siblings are more similar in their criminal behavior.

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  • Hederos Eriksson, Karin & Hjalmarsson, Randi & Lindquist, Matthew & Sandberg, Anna, 2014. "The Importance of Family Background and Neighborhood Effects as Determinants of Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 9911, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9911
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    2. Vladasel, Theodor & Lindquist, Matthew J. & Sol, Joeri & van Praag, Mirjam, 2021. "On the origins of entrepreneurship: Evidence from sibling correlations," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 36(5).
    3. Tealde, Emiliano, 2020. "The Unequal Impact of Natural Light on Crime," GLO Discussion Paper Series 663, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    4. Bebonchu Atems, 2020. "Identifying the Dynamic Effects of Income Inequality on Crime," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 82(4), pages 751-782, August.
    5. Lindquist, Matthew J. & Zenou, Yves, 2019. "Crime and Networks: 10 Policy Lessons," IZA Discussion Papers 12534, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Arnaud Chevalier & Olivier Marie, 2019. "Risky Moms, Risky Kids? Fertility And Crime After The Fall Of The Wall," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-087/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Elisabeth Bügelmayer & Daniel D. Schnitzlein, 2018. "Is it the family or the neighborhood? Evidence from sibling and neighbor correlations in youth education and health," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(3), pages 369-388, September.
    8. Mohammad H. Sepahvand & Roujman Shahbazian, 2021. "Sibling correlation in risk attitudes: evidence from Burkina Faso," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 19(1), pages 45-72, March.
    9. Emiliano Tealde, 2022. "The unequal impact of natural light on crime," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 35(3), pages 893-934, July.
    10. Bethencourt, Carlos & Kunze, Lars, 2014. "On the intergenerational nature of criminal behavior," MPRA Paper 58344, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Alonso-Borrego, César & Carrasco, Raquel, 2019. "Intimate partner violence and women 's health : the private and social burden," UC3M Working papers. Economics 29029, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    12. Fletcher, Jason M., 2017. "Adults Behaving Badly: The Effects of Own and Peer Parents' Incarceration on Adolescent Criminal Activities," IZA Discussion Papers 10797, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Jason Fletcher, 2020. "Assessing the Importance of Childhood Context in the Development of Hope and Optimism," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 21(7), pages 2419-2427, October.
    14. Saqib Amin & Nawaz Ahmad, 2018. "Ethnic Diversity, Social Exclusion and Economic Determinants of Crimes: A Case Study of Pakistan," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 140(1), pages 267-286, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime; family background; incarceration; neighborhood correlation; neighborhood effects; sibling correlation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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