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Short Criminals: Stature and Crime in Early America

Howard Bodenhorn (), Carolyn Moehling and Gregory Price ()

Journal of Law and Economics, 2012, vol. 55, issue 2, 393 - 419

Abstract: We consider the extent to which an individual's height affected the age at which he entered into criminal activity in early America. Using data on prisoners incarcerated in Pennsylvania's nineteenth-century prisons, we show that prisoners were short relative to the contemporary population. Then, using Weibull continuous-time duration econometric models, we show that age at entry into criminal activity was negatively associated with an individual's height after controlling for several individual characteristics. The results are consistent with recent research showing that shorter individuals face less attractive legitimate labor market opportunities because lower stature is associated with lower cognitive ability and because of general discrimination against shorter people.

Date: 2012
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