U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Employment, Crime, and Context: A Multi-Level Analysis of the Relationship Between Work and Crime

NCJ Number
198118
Author(s)
Thomas P. Wadsworth
Date Published
2001
Length
243 pages
Annotation
This document examines the influence of employment on criminal behavior.
Abstract
Industrial composition, labor market opportunities, and employment experiences are examined at both macro and micro levels to determine whether they play an important role in affecting crime. Data were used from the United States Census, Uniform Crime Reports, and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to examine how industrial and labor market characteristics of areas can influence aggregate rates of crime and how the employment experiences of individuals can affect individual levels of participation in criminal behavior. This research treats industrial composition, not labor force participation, as the externally derived variable in aggregate models of work and crime. Industrial composition is shown to influence labor force participation, social organization, and residential segregation. All of these factors influence crime rates. The role of labor market stratification is addressed, as well as de-industrialization in understanding the relationship between work and crime. Subjective indicators of job quality were used to determine whether investments in employment could deter individuals from criminal behavior. Findings suggest an interpretation of the relationship between work and crime that is supportive of the age-graded social control theory. Results also suggest that the industrial and labor market contexts of countries have a significant effect on individual criminal behavior above and beyond the influence of individual employment. These findings together offer strong support to the labor market stratification and crime perspective. 13 figures, 15 tables, 85 references, 3 appendices