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The Effect of Criminal Records on Access to Employment

Amanda Agan and Sonja Starr

American Economic Review, 2017, vol. 107, issue 5, 560-64

Abstract: This paper adds to the empirical evidence that criminal records are a barrier to employment. Using data from 2,655 online applications sent on behalf of fictitious male applicants, we show that employers are 60 percent more likely to call applicants that do not have a felony conviction. We further investigate whether this effect varies based on applicant race (black versus white), crime type (drug versus property crime), industry (restaurants versus retail), jurisdiction (New Jersey versus New York City), local crime rate, and local racial composition. Although magnitudes vary somewhat, in every subsample the conviction effect is large, significant, and negative.

JEL-codes: J23 K31 K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20171003
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