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How Do Labor Markets Affect Crime? New Evidence on an Old Puzzle

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  • Mustard, David B.

    () (University of Georgia)

Abstract

For nearly 50 years academics have been studying how labor markets affect crime. The initial interesting and important theoretical and empirical work generated substantial interest in studying crime among economists, in particular, and scholars in the social sciences more broadly. This literature, which is decades old and contains hundreds of papers, is characterized by an intriguing puzzle – the large gap between the theory and empirical work. While the hypothesis that growing labor markets reduce crime seems obvious and is widely accepted by many policy makers and academics, empirical results fail to show consistent evidence in support of this theory. The primary contribution of this chapter is to document how recent research – primarily since the late 1990s – makes substantial progress in resolving this disconnect between the theory and empirics. To accomplish this goal, I discuss a few very important empirical problems that until the last 10 years have not been systematically addressed. The central conclusion of this chapter is that recent research that addresses these important questions consistently provides evidence to buttress the contention that labor market opportunities have important effects on crime, especially property crime.

Suggested Citation

  • Mustard, David B., 2010. "How Do Labor Markets Affect Crime? New Evidence on an Old Puzzle," IZA Discussion Papers 4856, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4856
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    Cited by:

    1. Qadri, Faisal Sultan & Kadri, Adeel Sultan, 2010. "Relationship between education, health and crime: fable, fallacy or fact," MPRA Paper 30638, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. repec:iza:izawol:journl:y:2017:n:399 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. de Blasio, Guido & Maggio, Giuseppe & Menon, Carlo, 2016. "Down and out in Italian towns: Measuring the impact of economic downturns on crime," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 99-102.
    4. Oleksiy Ivaschenko & Darian Naidoo & David Newhouse & Sonya Sultan, 2017. "Can public works programs reduce youth crime? Evidence from Papua New Guinea’s Urban Youth Employment Project," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 7(1), pages 1-32, December.
    5. repec:eee:irlaec:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:74-85 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Schnepel, Kevin, 2014. "Good Jobs and Recidivism," Working Papers 2014-10, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    7. Almén, Daniel & Nordin, Martin, 2011. "Long term unemployment and violent crimes - using post-2000 data to reinvestigate the relationship between unemployment and crime," Working Papers 2011:34, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    8. Haroon Bhorat & Adaiah Lilenstein & Jabulile Monnakgotla & Amy Thornton, 2017. "The Socio-Economic Determinants of Crime in South Africa: An Empirical Assessment," Working Papers 201704, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    9. Grönqvist, Hans & Niknami, Susan & Robling, P-O, 2015. "Childhood Exposure to Segregation and Long-Run Criminal Involvement - Evidence from the “Whole of Sweden” Strategy#," Working Paper Series 1/2015, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    10. Bindler, Anna, 2016. "Still unemployed, what next? Crime and unemployment duration," Working Papers in Economics 660, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime; labor markets; unemployment; wages;

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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