Do Better Wages Reduce Crime? A Research Note

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    Abstract. Recent research has called into question theoretical and empirical findings demonstrating a deterrent effect of punishment. Also challenged has been the view that improved employment opportunities help to reduce participation in illegitimate activities. This research note summarizes newly published econometric findings revealing that better wages and employment indeed do appear to reduce individual recidivism rates, at least in the major data set studied. The data are drawn from the Baltimore LIFE experiment. Maximum likelihood methods are used to estimate the probability of recidivism one year after release from prison and the probability of avoiding rearrest or “survival” each month after release from prison. It is found that higher average weekly wages are associated with lower recidivism and higher survival rates. In contrast, no evidence is found to confirm a deterrent effect of punishment. [Complete documentation is published in S. L. Myers, Jr “Estimating the Economic Model of Crime: Employment vs. Punishment Effects,”.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)191-195
    Number of pages5
    JournalAmerican Journal of Economics and Sociology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Apr 1984


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