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"Might Not Be a Tomorrow": A Multi-Methods Approach to Anticipated Early Death and Youth Crime


  • Brezina, Timothy

    () (Georgia State University)

  • Tekin, Erdal

    () (American University)

  • Topalli, Volkan

    () (Georgia State University)


A number of researchers point to the anticipation of early death, or a sense of "futurelessness," as a contributing factor to youth crime and violence. Young people who perceive a high probability of early death, it is argued, may have little reason to delay gratification for the promise of future benefits, as the future itself is discounted. Consequently, these young people tend to pursue high-risk behaviors associated with immediate rewards, including crime and violence. Although existing studies lend empirical support to these arguments and show a statistical relationship between anticipated early death and youth crime, this support remains tentative. Moreover, a number of questions remain regarding the interpretation of this relationship, the meanings that offenders attach to the prospect of early death, and the causal mechanisms that link anticipated early death to youth crime. In this paper, we address the limitations of previous studies using a multi-methods approach, involving the analyses of national survey data and in-depth interviews with active street offenders.

Suggested Citation

  • Brezina, Timothy & Tekin, Erdal & Topalli, Volkan, 2008. ""Might Not Be a Tomorrow": A Multi-Methods Approach to Anticipated Early Death and Youth Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 3831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3831

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Angrist, Joshua D. & Krueger, Alan B., 1999. "Empirical strategies in labor economics," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1277-1366 Elsevier.
    2. Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2008. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 599-618, November.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1994:84:4:612-617_7 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    5. David Blau & Erdal Tekin, 2007. "The determinants and consequences of child care subsidies for single mothers in the USA," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 20(4), pages 719-741, October.
    6. 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.
    7. Erdal Tekin & Sara Markowitz, 2008. "The Relationship between Suicidal Behavior and Productive Activities of Young Adults," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 300-331, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Erdal Tekin & Volkan Topalli & Chandler McClellan & Richard Wright, 2014. "Liquidating Crime with Illiquidity: How Switching from Cash to Credit Can Stop Street Crime," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(2), pages 45-50, October.
    2. Robert J. Sampson, 2016. "The Characterological Imperative: On Heckman, Humphries, and Kautz's The Myth of Achievement Tests: The GED and the Role of Character in American Life," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 493-513, June.

    More about this item


    crime; youth;

    JEL classification:

    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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