NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Teen Births Keep American Crime High

Jennifer Hunt

NBER Working Paper No. 9632
Issued in April 2003
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies, Public Economics

The United States has a teenage birth rate that is high relative to that of other developed countries, and falling more slowly. Children of teenagers may experience difficult childhoods and hence be more likely to commit crimes subsequently. I assess to what extent lagged teen birth rates can explain why the United States had the highest developed country crime rates in the 1980s, and why US rates subsequently fell so much. For this purpose, I use internationally comparable crime rates measured from the 1989-2000 International Crime Victims Surveys. I find that an increase in the share of young people born to a teen mother increases the assault rate. The type of assault affected is perpetrated by unarmed lone assailants known to the victim by name, particularly at home or at work, and is not reported to the police. The pattern of teen births in the United States explains -30% of the relative fall in assaults by assailants known to the victim, but more than explains the 1980s gap with the rest of the world. I also present evidence on larceny and burglary.

download in pdf format
   (777 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9632

Published: Hunt, Jennifer. “Do Teen Births Keep American Crime High?” Journal of Law and Economics (October 2006).

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Becker Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach
Krueger and Ashenfelter w4143 Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins
Jacob and Lefgren w9653 Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration and Juvenile Crime
Levitt and Lochner The Determinants of Juvenile Crime
Hotz, Sanders, and McElroy w7397 Teenage Childbearing and Its Life Cycle Consequences: Exploiting a Natural Experiment
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us