Thursday, August 7, 2008

building criminal capital behind bars

If you hang out with a bunch of a talented chefs, you may learn something about cooking during the time together. If you hang out with car thieves, you may learn a thing or two about stealing cars.

Patrick Bayer, Randi Hjalmarsson, and David Pozen apply this logic to their analysis of juvenile detention centers. They show that future criminal behavior of detention center residents depends, at least somewhat, on the criminal background of the other detention center residents. From their abstract:
We find strong evidence of peer effects for burglary, petty larceny, felony and misdemeanor drug offenses, aggravated assault, and felony sex offenses; the influence of peers primarily affects individuals who already have some experience in a particular crime category.
If you have access to NBER, download there paper here. Otherwise, google scholar.

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