Labour Market Consequences of Holding a Criminal Record

Project leader

Funding source

Forte - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2014
End date: 31/12/2017
Funding: 4380000 SEK


Crime is both frequent and widespread. Every year, about 7 percent of all Swedish men under the age of 30 are convicted in a criminal trial. Among persons who receive prison sentences, close to 40 percent relapse into criminal behavior already within three years after release. Employment is widely believed to be a key element of successful reintegration into society. It is therefore alarming that theory as well as a limited number of empirical studies suggest that holding a criminal record itself restricts an individual's future labor market chances. Lack of appropriate data has limited our current understanding of these questions to a handful of international investigations. Swedish evidence is particularly scarce. This research project examines the effect of criminal conviction and imprisonment on the labour market prospects of ex-convicts and the school achievements of their children. Understanding whether and by how much a criminal record constitutes a barrier to reentry into the society is important because the problem is likely to be more severe for already socioeconomically deprived groups where criminal activity tends to be higher. This would risk magnifying preexisting labor market inequalities, as well as giving rise to a growing criminal underclass with limited legal income prospects. The project uses a unique and newly constructed longitudinal individual level dataset that include detailed information on every conviction in a criminal trial since 1985 and a large array of labor market and school performance indicators observed for the entire Swedish population. The magnitude of the sample used, the number of outcome measures studied, and the length of the follow up period, by far surpasses that of all previous studies on this topic. The data and institutional setting also makes it possible to take an important step towards a causal interpretation of the results.

Last updated on 2017-22-03 at 07:08