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Immigration, Employment Opportunities, and Criminal Behavior

Matthew Freedman, Emily Owens () and Sarah Bohn

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2018, vol. 10, issue 2, 117-51

Abstract: We take advantage of provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which granted legal resident status to long-time unauthorized residents but created new obstacles to employment for more recent immigrants, to explore how employment opportunities affect criminal behavior. Exploiting administrative data on the criminal justice involvement of individuals in San Antonio, Texas and using a triple-differences strategy, we find evidence of an increase in felony charges filed against residents most likely to be negatively affected by IRCA's employment regulations. Our results suggest a strong relationship between access to legal jobs and criminal behavior.

JEL-codes: J15 J18 J61 K37 K42 R23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20150165
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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:117-51