Unemployment and Crime: A Time-Series Analysis Disaggregated by Criminal Career Type

Cesar J. Rebellon, University of New Hampshire

Crime and unemployment (UC) research has often yielded contradictory and inconclusive results. At the theoretical level, these results may reflect the fact that unemployment simultaneously increases criminal motivation and decreases criminal opportunity. At the methodological level, such results may reflect different UC relationships at the micro and macro levels of analysis, the failure of certain studies to control for potentially confounding variables, or the failure of most studies to disaggregate their analyses by key demographic variables and career offender types. To date, reliance on UCR statistics has prevented researchers from disaggregating the analysis of the UC relationship by criminal career type. Drawing on Blumstein's criminal career paradigm, this study examines whether the UC relationship differs for first-time and habitual offenders. The present study examines complete longitudinal arrest histories ("rap sheets") of over 1.5 million persons arrested in Georgia since 1985, a cohort that represents over 30 years of arrest history. This analysis will offer the first look into the interplay between unemployment, crime, and career offender types.

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Updated 05/20/2006