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Like Godfather, Like Son: Explaining the Intergenerational Nature of Crime

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Abstract

This paper studies intergenerational correlations in crime between fathers and their children and the underlying mechanisms that give rise to these correlations. Using data from the Stockholm Birth Cohort, we find strong evidence of an intergenerational criminal relationship. Sons whose fathers have at least one sentence have 2.06 times higher odds of having a criminal conviction than sons whose fathers do not have any sentence. At the intensive margin, one additional sentence of the father increases the expected number of sons’ convictions by 32 percent. Fatherdaughter relationships are generally not significantly different than fathers-son relationships. Traditional regression techniques indicate that socioeconomic status accounts for roughly one-third of the extensive margin father-son relationship and somewhat less, particularly at the intensive margin, for daughters. Over and above this, for both sons and daughters, our ability proxies account for an additional 20 percent. Finally, household heterogeneity, the most important component of which is household instability, accounts for almost one-third of the intergenerational relationships. More direct evidence regarding whether the intergenerational correlations arise through either an inherited traits mechanism or a father as role model mechanism is provided in four alternative experiments. These experiments focus on: (i) a sample of twins, (ii) an adoptee sample, (iii) the timing of the father’s crime, and (iv) the quality of the father – child relationship. We find evidence that both direct channels play a role in the reproduction of crime from one generation to the next. Finally, we find that paternal incarceration may actually lower the number of crimes committed by some children, providing additional evidence of the importance of a behavioral transference mechanism.

Suggested Citation

  • Hjalmarsson, Randi & Lindquist, Matthew, 2009. "Like Godfather, Like Son: Explaining the Intergenerational Nature of Crime," Research Papers in Economics 2009:18, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2009_0018
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    Cited by:

    1. Björklund, Anders & Lindahl, Lena & Lindquist, Matthew J., 2008. "What More Than Parental Income? An Exploration of What Swedish Siblings Get from Their Parents," IZA Discussion Papers 3735, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Hällsten, Martin & Sarnecki, Jerzy & Szulkin, Ryszard, 2011. "Crime as a Price of Inequality? The Delinquency Gap between Children of Immigrants and Children of Native Swedes," SULCIS Working Papers 2011:1, Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.
    3. Hjalmarsson Randi & Lindquist Matthew J., 2010. "Driving Under the Influence of Our Fathers," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, pages 1-17.
    4. Lundborg, Petter & Nordin, Martin & Rooth, Dan Olof, 2012. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital. The Role of Skills and Health," Working Papers 2012:22, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    5. Björklund Anders & Lindahl Lena & Lindquist Matthew J., 2010. "What More Than Parental Income, Education and Occupation? An Exploration of What Swedish Siblings Get from Their Parents," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, pages 1-40.
    6. Lundborg, Petter & Nordin, Martin & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Exploring the Role of Skills and Health Using Data on Adoptees and Twins," IZA Discussion Papers 6099, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime; illegal behavior; intergenerational crime; intergenerational mobility; risky behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • 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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