NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About It?

Richard B. Freeman

NBER Working Paper No. 5451
Issued in February 1996
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper shows that participation in crime and involvement with the criminal justice system has reached extraordinary levels among young men. With approximately 2 percent as many men incarcerated as in the labor force, the crime rate should have plummeted. It didn't. Evidence suggests that the depressed labor market for low skill American workers contributed to the continued high level of crime by less educated men, despite incapacitation and the deterrent effect of imprisonment. The costs of incarceration are such that even marginally effective prevention policies can be socially desirable.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5451

Published: The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 10, no.1 (Winter 1996): 25-42.

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