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Columbia Law School

1999

Crime

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Crime And Work, Jeffrey Fagan, Richard B. Freeman Jan 1999

Crime And Work, Jeffrey Fagan, Richard B. Freeman

Faculty Scholarship

Crime and legal work are not mutually exclusive choices but represent a continuum of legal and illegal income-generating activities. The links between crime and legal work involve trade-offs among crime returns, punishment costs, legal work opportunity costs, and tastes and preferences regarding both types of work. Rising crime rates in the 1980s in the face of rising incarceration rates suggest that the threat of punishment is not the dominant cost of crime. Crime rates are inversely related to expected legal wages, particularly among young males with limited job skills or prospects. Recent ethnographic research shows that involvement in illegal work ...