Are Work and Crime Unrelated Life Spheres? A New Perspective on an Old Debate

Karl F. Schumann, University of Bremen
Beate Ehret, University of Bremen

The relationship between integration into the labor force and crime has been an almost classical topic for criminological analyses, with equivocal empirical results. New insights on that relationship may emerge by looking at longitudinal data. The data-set of the Bremen-School-to-Work-Cohort-Study (based on five interview waves between 1989 and 2000) includes data on the trajectory of work for 424 juveniles who exited school in 1989 for the 11 subssequent years, using a monthly calendar. In addition self-reported delinquency has been measured on annually basis as well as registered crimes, but also a variety of theoretically relevant variables.

By analyzing that data-set using various types of statistical models, we consistently failed to find any significant relationship between work related variables and SRD (prevalence, frequency, changes) in multivariate analysis. In contrast we found effects of interventions by the juvenile or criminal justice system on the work life. The paper elaborates on the question whether the work-crime-relationship may be predominantly based on ideology rather than on facts.

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Updated 05/20/2006