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Crime and Circumstance: The Effects of Infant Health Shocks on Fathers' Criminal Activity

Listed author(s):
  • Hope Corman
  • Kelly Noonan
  • Nancy E. Reichman
  • Ofira Schwartz-Soicher
Registered author(s):

    Few studies in the economics literature have linked individuals' criminal behavior to changes in their personal circumstances. Life shocks, such as natural or personal disasters, could reduce or sever a person's connections to his/her family, job, or community. With fewer connections, crime may become a more attractive option. This study addresses the question of whether an exogenous shock in life circumstances affects criminal activity. Specifically, we estimate the effects of the birth of a child with a random and serious health problem (versus the birth of a healthy infant) on the likelihood that the child's father becomes or remains involved in illegal activities. Controlling for the father's pre-birth criminal activity, we find that the shock of having a child with a serious health problem increases both the father's post-birth conviction and incarceration by 1 to 8 percentage points, depending on the measure of infant health used.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12754.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12754.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2006
    Publication status: published as Corman, H., Noonan, K., Reichman, N., Schwartz-Soicher. 2011. Life Shocks and Crime: A Test of the “Turning Point” Hypothesis. Demography 48(3): 1177–1202.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12754
    Note: CH HC HE LS
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    1. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "Recent Immigrants: Unexpected Implications for Crime and Incarceration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(4), pages 654-679, July.
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    3. 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.
    4. Lemieux, Thomas & Fortin, Bernard & Frechette, Pierre, 1994. "The Effect of Taxes on Labor Supply in the Underground Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 231-254, March.
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    7. Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
    8. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-283, April.
    9. Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman, 2005. "New Fathers' Labor Supply: Does Child Health Matter?," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(s1), pages 1399-1417.
    10. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
    12. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
    13. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2005. "Why are immigrants' incarceration rates so low? evidence on selective immigration, deterrence, and deportation," Working Paper Series WP-05-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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    18. Amanda Geller & Irwin Garfinkel & Bruce Western, 2006. "The Effects of Incarceration on Employment and Wages An Analysis of the Fragile Families Survey," Working Papers 932, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    19. Nancy Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan, 2004. "Effects of child health on parents’ relationship status," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(3), pages 569-584, August.
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