Michael Muller-Smith, University of Michigan - "Inequalities in U.S. Criminal Justice and Economic Outcomes"

Apr 8, 1:15 pm1:15 pm
Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building, Room 217


Event Description


This paper provides new evidence on how felony conviction and imprisonment rates have changed for 30+ birth year cohorts over 185 distinct commuting zones in the U.S. using a novel piece of data infrastructure we have created called the Criminal Justice Administrative Records System (CJARS).  We document striking variation in cumulative exposure to the justice system over geography, between birth cohorts and across demographic groups, and leverage this newly documented variation to asses how changing risk of contact with the justice system has impacted economic outcomes in the U.S. Using a research design that focuses on between cohort variation within commuting zones, we find that a higher risk of criminal justice contact significantly worsens high school graduation rates, employment, earnings and occupational scores.  In examining social spillovers, we find that elevated male criminal justice contact increases female employment and earnings while disrupting the stability of two-parent households.  Finally, we document cross-race spillovers where elevated black male felony conviction rates prop up the employment of low-skill white males.