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Economic uncertainty, parental selection, and the criminal activity of the 'children of the wall'

  • Chevalier A.
  • Marie O.
  • Marie O.


We explore the link between parental selection and criminality of children in a newcontext. After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, East Germany experienced a very large, but temporary, drop in birth rates mostly driven by economic uncertainty. We exploit this natural experiment in a differences in differences setup to first estimate that the children from these affected smaller cohorts are relatively much more likely to be criminally active. Using individual level data, we provide evidence that women who gave birth at this period of uncertainty were negatively selected into fertility.Further investigation of the underlying mechanisms reveals that emotional attachment and intergenerational transmission of risk attitudes play important roles in the parental selection-crime of children relationship. Finally, results for siblings support a causal interpretation of our findings.

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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) in its series ROA Research Memorandum with number 020.

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Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unm:umaror:2013020
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  1. Orla Doyle & Colm Harmon & James J. Heckman & Caitriona Logue & Seong Moon, 2013. "Measuring Investment in Human Capital Formation: An Experimental Analysis of Early Life Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 19316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  3. Alberto Alesina & Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, 2007. "Goodbye Lenin (or Not?): The Effect of Communism on People," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1507-1528, September.
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  5. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  6. Sen Anindya, 2007. "Does Increased Abortion Lead to Lower Crime? Evaluating the Relationship between Crime, Abortion, and Fertility," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-38, September.
  7. Conti, Gabriella & Hansman, Christopher & Heckman, James J. & Novak, Matthew F.X. & Ruggiero, Angela M. & Suomi, Stephen J., 2012. "Primate Evidence on the Late Health Effects of Early Life Adversity," IZA Discussion Papers 6495, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Sumon Kumar Bhaumik & Jeffrey Nugent, 2011. "Real options and demographic decisions: empirical evidence from East and West Germany," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(21), pages 2739-2749.
  9. Leonardo Bursztyn & Davide Cantoni, 2014. "A Tear in the Iron Curtain: The Impact of Western Television on Consumption Behavior," NBER Working Papers 20403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2006. "The Impact of an Abortion Ban on Socioeconomic Outcomes of Children: Evidence from Romania," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 744-773, August.
  11. Sandner, Malte, 2013. "Effects of Early Childhood Intervention on Child Development and Early Skill Formation. Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-518, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  12. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Jonathan Gruber & Phillip B. Levine & Douglas Staiger, 2009. "Abortion and Selection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 124-136, February.
  13. Burchardi, Konrad B. & Hassan, Tarek, 2011. "The Economic Impact of Social Ties: Evidence from German Reunification," CEPR Discussion Papers 8470, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Gary Solon & Steven J. Haider & Jeffrey Wooldridge, 2013. "What Are We Weighting For?," NBER Working Papers 18859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Randi Hjalmarsson & Matthew J. Lindquist, 2012. "Like Godfather, Like Son: Exploring the Intergenerational Nature of Crime," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(2), pages 550-582.
  16. Christian Schmitt, 2012. "Geburten in Ost- und Westdeutschland: erleichtert eine hohe Risikobereitschaft die Entscheidung für ein Kind?," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 79(11), pages 18-23.
  17. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," NBER Working Papers 9532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  19. repec:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:1:p:263-291 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. repec:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:1:p:407-423 is not listed on IDEAS
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