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

  • Hope Corman
  • Kelly Noonan
  • Nancy E. Reichman
  • Ofira Schwartz-Soicher
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    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
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    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
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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