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The effect of changing employers’ access to criminal histories on ex-offenders’ labor market outcomes: evidence from the 2010–2012 Massachusetts CORI Reform

Author

Listed:
  • Jackson, Osborne

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

  • Zhao, Bo

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

Abstract

Many regard the 2010–2012 Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI)Reform as a national model to improve ex-offenders’ labor market outcomes. This reform prohibits most employers from inquiring about an individual’s criminal history on the initial job application (the “ban the box” reform), and reduces employers’ access to an applicant’s criminal record (the record-access reform). Using the CORI Reform as a natural experiment and a unique large confidential dataset linking individuals’ CORI records with their unemployment insurance quarterly wage records, we examine the impact of changing employers’ access to applicants' criminal histories on ex-offenders’ labor market outcomes. We find that contrary to the intended goal, the CORI Reform has a small negative effect on ex-offenders’ employment that grows over time, with mixed effects on earnings and industry composition. Suggestive evidence shows that the negative employment effect is more likely to result from a labor supply response rather than a labor demand response to the policy changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Jackson, Osborne & Zhao, Bo, 2017. "The effect of changing employers’ access to criminal histories on ex-offenders’ labor market outcomes: evidence from the 2010–2012 Massachusetts CORI Reform," Working Papers 16-30, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:16-30
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Devah Pager, 2003. "The mark of a criminal record," Natural Field Experiments 00319, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Amanda Agan & Sonja Starr, 2016. "Ban the Box, Criminal Records, and Statistical Discrimination: A Field Experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00539, The Field Experiments Website.
    3. Jackson, Osborne & Zhao, Bo, 2017. "Does changing employers’ access to criminal histories affect ex-offenders’ recidivism?: evidence from the 2010–2012 Massachusetts CORI Reform," Working Papers 16-31, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    4. A. Colin Cameron & Douglas L. Miller, 2015. "A Practitioner’s Guide to Cluster-Robust Inference," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 317-372.
    5. Holzer, Harry J & Raphael, Steven & Stoll, Michael A, 2006. "Perceived Criminality, Criminal Background Checks, and the Racial Hiring Practices of Employers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 451-480, October.
    6. Jennifer L. Doleac & Benjamin Hansen, 2016. "Does “Ban the Box” Help or Hurt Low-Skilled Workers? Statistical Discrimination and Employment Outcomes When Criminal Histories are Hidden," NBER Working Papers 22469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Shoag, Daniel & Veuger, Stan, 2016. "No Woman No Crime: Ban the Box, Employment, and Upskilling," Working Paper Series 16-015, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jackson, Osborne & Zhao, Bo, 2017. "Does changing employers’ access to criminal histories affect ex-offenders’ recidivism?: evidence from the 2010–2012 Massachusetts CORI Reform," Working Papers 16-31, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    2. Jackson, Osborne & Sullivan, Riley & Zhao, Bo, 2017. "Reintegrating the ex-offender population in the U.S. labor market: lessons from the CORI Reform in Massachusetts," New England Public Policy Center Research Report 17-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    ex-offenders; criminal history; Massachusetts CORI Reform; ban the box;

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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