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Does Child Abuse Cause Crime?

Author

Listed:
  • Currie, Janet

    (Princeton University)

  • Tekin, Erdal

    (American University)

Abstract

Child maltreatment, which includes both child abuse and child neglect, is a major social problem. This paper focuses on measuring the effects of child maltreatment on crime using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). We focus on crime because it is one of the most socially costly potential outcomes of maltreatment, and because the proposed mechanisms linking maltreatment and crime are relatively well elucidated in the literature. Our work addresses many limitations of the existing literature on child maltreatment. First, we use a large national sample, and investigate different types of abuse in a similar framework. Second, we pay careful attention to identifying the causal impact of abuse, by using a variety of statistical methods that make differing assumptions. These methods include: Ordinary Least Squares (OLS), propensity score matching estimators, and twin fixed effects. Finally, we examine the extent to which the effects of maltreatment vary with socio-economic status (SES), gender, and the severity of the maltreatment. We find that maltreatment approximately doubles the probability of engaging in many types of crime. Low SES children are both more likely to be mistreated and suffer more damaging effects. Boys are at greater risk than girls, at least in terms of increased propensity to commit crime. Sexual abuse appears to have the largest negative effects, perhaps justifying the emphasis on this type of abuse in the literature. Finally, the probability of engaging in crime increases with the experience of multiple forms of maltreatment as well as the experience of Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation.

Suggested Citation

  • Currie, Janet & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Does Child Abuse Cause Crime?," IZA Discussion Papers 2063, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2063
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Tekin, Erdal & Markowitz, Sara, 2005. "Suicidal Behavior and the Labor Market Productivity of Young Adults," IZA Discussion Papers 1547, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    5. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Christina Paxson & Jane Waldfogel, 2002. "Work, Welfare, and Child Maltreatment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 435-474, July.
    7. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 2002. "Propensity Score-Matching Methods For Nonexperimental Causal Studies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 151-161, February.
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    10. Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
    11. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2003. "Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration, and Juvenile Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1560-1577, December.
    12. Mocan, H Naci & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Guns and Juvenile Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 507-531, October.
    13. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1308-1334, December.
    14. Zhao, Zhong, 2008. "Sensitivity of propensity score methods to the specifications," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 98(3), pages 309-319, March.
    15. Freeman, Richard B., 1999. "The economics of crime," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 52, pages 3529-3571, Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Francesconi & Stephen Jenkins & Thomas Siedler, 2010. "Childhood family structure and schooling outcomes: evidence for Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(3), pages 1073-1103, June.
    2. Anna Aizer, 2007. "Neighborhood Violence and Urban Youth," NBER Chapters, in: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective, pages 275-307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Castillo, Marco, 2020. "Negative Childhood Experiences and Risk Aversion: Evidence from Children Exposed to Domestic Violence," IZA Discussion Papers 13320, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Dinand Webbink & Sunčica Vujić & Pierre Koning & Nicholas G. Martin, 2012. "The Effect Of Childhood Conduct Disorder On Human Capital," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(8), pages 928-945, August.
    5. Yoshito Takasaki, 2011. "Fraud and Poverty: Exploring Ex Ante Victim Data," Tsukuba Economics Working Papers 2011-002, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba.
    6. Joseph J. Doyle Jr., 2008. "Child Protection and Adult Crime: Using Investigator Assignment to Estimate Causal Effects of Foster Care," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 746-770, August.
    7. Ciro Biderman & JoãoMP DeMello & Alexandre Schneider, 2010. "Dry Laws and Homicides: Evidence from the São Paulo Metropolitan Area," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(543), pages 157-182, March.
    8. Prakarsh Singh & Alvaro Morales, 2015. "The Effect of Civil Conflict on Child Abuse: Evidence from Peru," NCID Working Papers 04/2015, Navarra Center for International Development, University of Navarra.
    9. Everhart Newman, Jan L. & Falligant, John M. & Thompson, Kelli R. & Gomez, Michael D. & Burkhart, Barry R., 2018. "Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy with adolescents with illegal sexual behavior in a secure residential treatment facility," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 431-438.
    10. Fang, Xiangming & Tarui, Nori, 2015. "Child Maltreatment, Family Characteristics, and Educational Attainment: Evidence from Add Health Data," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205319, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    11. Fernanda Marquez-Padilla & Francisco Perez-Arce & Carlos Rodriguez-Castelan, 2015. "The (Non-) Effect of Violence on Education Evidence from the "War on Drugs" in Mexico," Working Papers WR-1082, RAND Corporation.
    12. Sofia Amaral & Victoria Endl-Geyer & Helmut Rainer, 2020. "Familiäre Gewalt und die Covid-19-Pandemie: Ein Überblick über die erwarteten Auswirkungen und mögliche Auswege," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 73(07), pages 52-56, July.
    13. Fletcher, Jason M., 2009. "Childhood mistreatment and adolescent and young adult depression," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(5), pages 799-806, March.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime; child abuse; maltreatment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior

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