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Building Criminal Capital behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections

  • Patrick Bayer
  • Randi Hjalmarsson
  • David Pozen

This paper analyzes the influence that juvenile offenders serving time in the same correctional facility have on each other's subsequent criminal behavior. The analysis is based on data on over 8,000 individuals serving time in 169 juvenile correctional facilities during a two-year period in Florida. These data provide a complete record of past crimes, facility assignments, and arrests and adjudications in the year following release for each individual. To control for the non-random assignment to facilities, we include facility and facility-by-prior offense fixed effects, thereby estimating peer effects using only within-facility variation over time. We find strong evidence of peer effects for burglary, petty larceny, felony and misdemeanor drug offenses, aggravated assault, and felony sex offenses; the influence of peers primarily affects individuals who already have some experience in a particular crime category. We also find evidence that the predominant types of peer effects differ in residential versus non-residential facilities; effects in the latter are consistent with network formation among youth serving time close to home.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12932.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson & David Pozen, 2009. "Building Criminal Capital behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 105-147, February.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12932
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
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  1. Steven D. Levitt & Lance Lochner, 2001. "The Determinants of Juvenile Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 327-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2003. "Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration and Juvenile Crime," NBER Working Papers 9653, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Jens Ludwig & Greg J. Duncan & Paul Hirschfield, 2001. "Urban Poverty And Juvenile Crime: Evidence From A Randomized Housing-Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 655-679, May.
  13. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(1), pages 87-130, January.
  14. Lance Lochner, 2004. "Education, Work, and Crime: A Human Capital Approach," NBER Working Papers 10478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  26. repec:mpr:mprres:4324 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 2005. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 319-349.
  28. Dan Levy & Michael Kremer, 2003. "Peer effects and alcohol use among college students," Natural Field Experiments 00286, The Field Experiments Website.
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