Work as a turning point in the life course of criminals: A duration model of age, employment, and recidivism

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Abstract

Sociologists have increasingly emphasized 'turning points' in explaining behavioral change over the life course. Is work a turning point in the life course of criminal offenders? If criminals are provided with jobs, are they likely to stop committing crimes? Prior research is inconclusive because work effects have been biased by selectivity and obscured by the interaction of age and employment. This study yields more refined estimates by specifying event history models to analyze assignment to, eligibility for, and current participation in a national work experiment for criminal offenders. Age is found to interact with employment to affect the rate of self-reported recidivism: Those aged 27 or older are less likely to report crime and arrest when provided with marginal employment opportunities than when such opportunities are not provided. Among young participants, those in their teens and early twenties, the experimental job treatment had little effect on crime. Work thus appears to be a turning point for older, but not younger, offenders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-546
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Volume65
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

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