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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 for the Study of Labor (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 for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 2005. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 319-349.
    3. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Corman, Hope & Mocan, Naci, 2005. "Carrots, Sticks, and Broken Windows," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 235-266, April.
    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. Jane Waldfogel & Christina Paxson, 1999. "Parental Resources and Child Abuse and Neglect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 239-244, May.
    8. H. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2003. "Guns, Drugs and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from a Panel of Siblings and Twins," NBER Working Papers 9824, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Zhao, Zhong, 2008. "Sensitivity of propensity score methods to the specifications," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 98(3), pages 309-319, March.
    14. 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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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Yoshito Takasaki, 2011. "Fraud and Poverty: Exploring Ex Ante Victim Data," Tsukuba Economics Working Papers 2011-002, Economics, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Fletcher, Jason M., 2009. "Childhood mistreatment and adolescent and young adult depression," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(5), pages 799-806, March.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime; child abuse; maltreatment;

    JEL classification:

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

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