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Collateral Costs: The Effects of Incarceration on the Employment and Earnings of Young Workers


  • Holzer, Harry J.

    () (Georgetown University)


In this paper I review the empirical evidence on the effects of incarceration on the subsequent employment and earnings of less-educated young prisoners. In this discussion I include evidence from: 1) Employer surveys and audit studies of hiring; 2) Survey data (mostly from the NLSY79) and administrative data; and 3) state-level incarceration data linked to micro employment data for young black men. The strengths and weaknesses of each type of analysis are discussed as well. The preponderance of the evidence considered suggests that, all else equal, spells of incarceration do tend to reduce subsequent employment and earnings for those with criminal records.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3118

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Holzer, Harry J, 1987. "Informal Job Search and Black Youth Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 446-452, June.
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    14. 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).
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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. John Schmitt & Kris Warner, 2010. "The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2010-28, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    2. Jeremiah Richey, 2016. "An Odd Couple: Monotone Instrumental Variables and Binary Treatments," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(6), pages 1099-1110, June.
    3. Ignacio Munyo, 2015. "The Juvenile Crime Dilemma," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(2), pages 201-211, April.
    4. Richardson, Lindsey & Wood, Evan & Kerr, Thomas, 2013. "The impact of social, structural and physical environmental factors on transitions into employment among people who inject drugs," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 126-133.
    5. Sciulli, Dario, 2010. "Conviction, Gender and Labour Market Status: A Propensity Score Matching Approach," MPRA Paper 25054, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Michael Svarer, 2011. "Crime and partnerships," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 307-325, September.
    7. Amanda Agan & Sonja Starr, 2016. "Ban the Box, Criminal Records, and Statistical Discrimination: A Field Experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00539, The Field Experiments Website.
    8. Robynn Cox, 2016. "The Effect of Private Sector Work Opportunities in Prison on Labor Market Outcomes of the Formerly Incarcerated," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 412-440, December.
    9. Robynn Cox, 2012. "The Impact of Mass Incarceration on the Lives of African American Women," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 203-212, June.

    More about this item


    incarceration; employment; earnings;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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