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EMPLOYMENT, CRIME, AND RACE

By DAVID H. GOOD and MAUREEN A. PIROG-GOOD

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between the employability and the criminality of white and black male teenagers. We find that among black teenagers, the employed engage in fewer criminal activities than do the unemployed. Thus, blacks apparently view employment and crime as alternative income-generating activities. On the other hand, employment status seems not to affect the criminal behavior of white male teenagers. Our evidence indicates that in the group studied, whites tend to use employment as a cover for crime or to moonlight in crime. Different legitimate opportunity structures for whites and blacks can explain, in part, the behavioral differences of whites and blacks. One more important policy implication is that job opportunities targeted to high-risk black teenage populations have the additional beneficial effect of reducing crime rates. Copyright 1987 Western Economic Association International.

DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1465-7287.1987.tb00274.x
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