Employment, crime, and context: a multi-level analysis of the relationship between work and crime

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Employment, crime, and context: a multi-level analysis of the relationship between work and crime

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Title: Employment, crime, and context: a multi-level analysis of the relationship between work and crime
Author: Wadsworth, Thomas P
Abstract: This dissertation examines the influence of work on criminal behavior. It stems from the perspective that work, at both the individual and community level, can shape attitudes, influence behavior and structure lifestyles. In this research, I examine whether industrial composition, labor market opportunities, and employment experiences, at both the macro and micro levels, can play an important role in affecting crime.I draw on U.S. Census Data, the Uniform Crime Reports, and individual level data from 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 effect individual levels of participation in criminal behavior. This multi-level approach allows for the examination of individual and contextual-level causal mechanisms in the employment/crime relationship.At the aggregate level this research goes beyond much of the current literature by treating industrial composition, not labor force participation as the exogenous 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. This approach begins to address the role of labor market stratification, as well as de-industrialization in understanding the relationship between work and crime.At the individual-level I use subjective indicators of job quality to determine whether investments in employment can deter individuals from criminal behavior. The findings suggest an interpretation of the relationship between work and crime that is supportive of the age-graded social control theory proposed by Sampson and Laub (1990). The results also suggest that the industrial and labor market contexts of counties have a significant effect on individual criminal behavior above and beyond the influence of individual employment. Collectively, these findings offer strong support to the labor market stratification and crime perspective. This approach combines social control theory, social disorganization theory, and the routine activities and crime perspective to understand the role of individuals and communities in the relationship between work and crime.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 2001
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/8872

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