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Education, Work, and Crime: A Human Capital Approach

  • Lance Lochner

This paper develops a model of crime in which human capital increases the opportunity cost of crime from foregone work and expected costs associated with incarceration. Older, more intelligent, and more educated adults should commit fewer street (unskilled) crimes. White collar crimes decline less (or increase) with age and education. Predictions for age-crime and education-crime relationships receive broad empirical support in self-report data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and arrest data from the Uniform Crime Reports. The effects of education, training, and wage subsidies, as well as enforcement policies on criminal behavior are discussed.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10478.

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Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Lochner, Lance. "Education, Work And Crime: A Human Capital Approach," International Economic Review, 2004, v45(3,Aug), 811-843.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10478
Note: LS CH
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  1. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1995. "The Effect of Arrests on the Employment and Earnings of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 51-71, February.
  2. James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explorations with a Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings with Heterogeneous Agents," NBER Working Papers 6384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Grogger, Jeff, 1998. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-91, October.
  4. Harris Dellas & Plutarchos Sakellaris, 2003. "On the cyclicality of schooling: theory and evidence," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(1), pages 148-172, January.
  5. H. Naci Mocan & Stephen C. Billups & Jody Overland, 2005. "A Dynamic Model of Differential Human Capital and Criminal Activity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(288), pages 655-681, November.
  6. Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2004. "Crime and Economic Incentives," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
  7. W. Kip Viscusi, 1986. "Market Incentives for Criminal Behavior," NBER Chapters, in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 301-351 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Steven D. Levitt, 1997. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," NBER Working Papers 6191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do about It?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 25-42, Winter.
  10. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  11. Julian R. Betts & Laurel L. McFarland, 1995. "Safe Port in a Storm: The Impact of Labor Market Conditions on Community College Enrollments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(4), pages 741-765.
  12. Meyer, Bruce D. & Rosenbaum, Dan T., 2000. "Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and its Effects," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 4), pages 1027-62, December.
  13. Tauchen, Helen & Witte, Ann Dryden & Griesinger, Harriet, 1994. "Criminal Deterrence: Revisiting the Issue with a Birth Cohort," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 399-412, August.
  14. Donohue, John J, III & Siegelman, Peter, 1998. "Allocating Resources among Prisons and Social Programs in the Battle against Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-43, January.
  15. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1999. "Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and its Effects," JCPR Working Papers 152, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  16. Patrick J. Bayer & Randi Pintoff & David Emanuel Pozen, 2004. "Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Social Learning in Juvenile Corrections," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm418, Yale School of Management.
  17. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2001. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," NBER Working Papers 8605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Joel Waldfogel, 1994. " The Effect of Criminal Conviction on Income and the Trust "Reposed in the Workmen"," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(1), pages 62-81.
  19. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  20. Chien-Chieh Huang & Derek Laing & Ping Wang, 2004. "Crime And Poverty: A Search-Theoretic Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 909-938, 08.
  21. Leung, Siu Fai, 1994. "An economic analysis of the age-crime profile," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 481-497, March.
  22. Susumu Imai & Kala Krishna, 2001. "Employment, Dynamic Deterrence and Crime," NBER Working Papers 8281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. 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.
  24. Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "The effects of criminality and conviction on the labor market status of young British offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 109-126, January.
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