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The Impact of Incarceration in State Prison on the Employment Prospects of Women

Author

Listed:
  • Cho, Rosa

    () (Brown University)

  • LaLonde, Robert J.

    (Harris School, University of Chicago)

Abstract

This paper uses a unique data set constructed from two sets of administrative records to examine the relationship between incarceration and employment rates for former female state prisoners from Illinois. Our analysis indicates that although prison is associated with declining employment rates during the quarters leading up to women's incarcerations, it does not appear to harm their employment prospects later on. In the short-term, we estimate that women's post-prison employment rates are about four percentage points above expected levels. However, these employment gains do not persist and gradually fall back to pre-prison levels. But for some groups of women, including those with four or more children, those who served longer prison spells, and those who served time for person-related or drug-related offenses, we find that modestly positive employment effects that are on the order of a few percentage points persist. These results indicate that time out of the work force or diminished skills are not costs associated with incarcerating women. Nor does a prison record appear to send an undesirable signal in the labor market that reduces former female inmates' employment chances. Although incarcerated women's subsequent employment rates are very low, they do not appear to be low because of their experience in prison.

Suggested Citation

  • Cho, Rosa & LaLonde, Robert J., 2005. "The Impact of Incarceration in State Prison on the Employment Prospects of Women," IZA Discussion Papers 1792, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1792
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Keith Finlay, 2009. "Effect of Employer Access to Criminal History Data on the Labor Market Outcomes of Ex-Offenders and Non-Offenders," NBER Chapters,in: Studies of Labor Market Intermediation, pages 89-125 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Giles, Margaret & Le, Anh T., 2009. "Investment in Human Capital during Incarceration and Employment Prospects of Prisoners," IZA Discussion Papers 4582, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Sciulli, Dario, 2010. "Conviction, Gender and Labour Market Status: A Propensity Score Matching Approach," MPRA Paper 25054, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Holzer, Harry J., 2007. "Collateral Costs: The Effects of Incarceration on the Employment and Earnings of Young Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 3118, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    prison; women; employment;

    JEL classification:

    • J29 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Other

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