July 2014

IZA DP No. 8332: Crime Scars: Recessions and the Making of Career Criminals

forthcoming in Review of Economics and Statistics, 2018

Recessions lead to short-term job loss, lower levels of happiness and decreasing income levels. There is growing evidence that workers who first join the labour market during economic downturns suffer from poor job matches that have a sustained detrimental effect on their wages and career progression. This paper uses a range of US and UK data to document a more disturbing long-run effect of recessions: young people who leave school in the midst of recessions are significantly more likely to lead a life of crime than those graduating into a buoyant labour market. These effects are long lasting and substantial.