Investigating the Impact of Unemployment on Arrests for Individuals at the Margin: Evidence from Ex-Offenders Seeking Work in New York State
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
I use administrative data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Department of Labor, and Department of Health, tracking unemployment and arrest outcomes for a group of individuals between 2008 and 2014. To identify the unemployment-arrest relationship, I organize my data in a panel and use industry-specific variation in unemployment trends caused by the recession in 2008-2009, along with a fixed-effects design to control for time-constant individual heterogeneity. The two-stage least squares estimates suggest that being unemployed for one additional quarter in a year increases the likelihood of being arrested within that year by 3 to 6 percentage points, with substantial heterogeneity by criminal record, a priori risk, and sex. The results suggest larger estimates than those typically found in the literature, suggesting that targeting employment programs at those "on the margin" could substantially reduce re-arrest rates within such individuals.