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The Effect of Convicton on Income Through the Life Cycle

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  • Daniel Nagin
  • Joel Waldfogel

Abstract

Existing studies of the impact of conviction on income and employment do not consider life cycle issues. We postulate that conviction reduces access to career jobs offering stable, long-term employment. Instead, conviction relegates offenders to spot market jobs, which may have higher pay at the outset of the career but do not offer stable employment or rapidly rising wages. Thus, first-time conviction may increase the wages of young workers while decreasing the wages of older workers. We test our theory with data on federal offenders and find that first-time conviction has a positive and significant effect on income for offenders under age 25 and an increasingly negative and significant impact for offenders over age 30. These results imply that the present value of income lost as a result of conviction varies over the life cycle, reaching a maximum in the middle of the career. We find that the gains sought by these offenders follow similar profiles, suggesting that prospective offenders are deterred by the possibility of lost future income. Because the discounted loss in future income facing young offenders may be small, our results may provide part of an explanation of youth crime.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Nagin & Joel Waldfogel, 1993. "The Effect of Convicton on Income Through the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 4551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4551
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Waldfogel, Joel, 1994. "Does conviction have a persistent effect on income and employment?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 103-119, March.
    2. 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.
    3. Lott, John R, Jr, 1992. "Do We Punish High Income Criminals Too Heavily?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(4), pages 583-608, October.
    4. Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1998. "The Effect of Conviction on Income Through the Life Cycle," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 25-40, March.
    5. Witte, Ann D. & Reid, Pamela A., 1980. "An exploration of the determinants of labor market performance for prison releasees," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 313-329, November.
    6. 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 352-352.
    7. Grogger, Jeff, 1992. "Arrests, Persistent Youth Joblessness, and Black/White Employment Differentials," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 100-106, February.
    8. Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Crime and the Employment of Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Matthew J. Baker & Niklas J. Westelius, 2013. "Crime, expectations, and the deterrence hypothesis," Chapters,in: Research Handbook on Economic Models of Law, chapter 12, pages 235-280 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1998. "The Effect of Conviction on Income Through the Life Cycle," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 25-40, March.
    3. Sciulli, Dario, 2010. "Conviction, Gender and Labour Market Status: A Propensity Score Matching Approach," MPRA Paper 25054, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Devah Pager, 2003. "The mark of a criminal record," Natural Field Experiments 00319, The Field Experiments Website.
    5. Curry, Philip A. & Klumpp, Tilman, 2009. "Crime, punishment, and prejudice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 73-84, February.
    6. Miceli Thomas J. & Bucci Catherine, 2005. "A Simple Theory of Increasing Penalties for Repeat Offenders," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 71-80, April.
    7. Adolfo Sachsida & Mario Jorge C. de Mendonça & Fabio Stallivieri, 2007. "Ex-Convicts Face Multiple Labor Market Punishments: Estimates of Peer-Group and Stigma Effects Using Equations of Returns to Schooling," Economia, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics], vol. 8(3), pages .503-520.
    8. Dionissi Aliprantis, 2013. "Covariates and causal effects: the problem of context," Working Paper 1310, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    9. 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.
    10. Robert W. Fairlie, 2002. "Drug Dealing and Legitimate Self-Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 538-567, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

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