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Estudos Econômicos (São Paulo)

Print version ISSN 0101-4161On-line version ISSN 1980-5357

Estud. Econ. vol.34 no.3 São Paulo July/Sept. 2004

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0101-41612004000300004 

Effects of family background on crime participation and criminal earnings: an empirical analysis of siblings

 

 

Liliana E. Pezzin

Medical College of Wisconsin - Health Policy Institute and Department of Medicine

 

 


ABSTRACT

This study exploits the sibling structure of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth data to measure the degree to which family background explains the variance in the propensity to engage in criminal activities and in the intensity and success of crime participation as measured by the level of criminal earnings. A multiple-equation model whose reduced form disturbances are connected by a common unobservable variable having a variance-components structure is developed and estimated. Estimation results indicate a high level of association (net of observable measures of family background) between the unobserved factors affecting siblings' propensity to engage in criminal activities in a family, with estimated intra-family correlations ranging from 0.44 to 0.55. Sharing a common family background explains around 25% of the variance of the unconditional criminal income. The results suggest that ignoring family background effects leads to a significant upward bias in the effects of race and education on the propensity to engage in income-generating crime.

Key words: family effects, crime, latent variable, variance components models.

JEL Classification
K42, C33


RESUMO

Este estudo usa dados do National Longitudinal Survey of Youth para medir a extensão pela qual interações sociais de família explicam a variância na probabilidade de participação em crime e na intensidade e sucesso em atividades criminais. A estimação é baseada em um mo-delo de equações múltiplas cujas perturbações são interligadas por uma variável inobservável comum. A virtude do método proposto é usar dados referentes a irmãos - que compartilham as mesmas características maternas e paternas em relação a fatores de família que possivelmente influenciam a sua própria decisão de engajar em atividades ilegais - para estimar o efeito do background familiar na decisão de participar em crime. Os resultados empíricos indicam um alto nível de correlação entre fatores inobserváveis medindo efeitos de família e a propensão de irmãos em participar de atividades criminosas (0.44 a 0.55). Efeitos de família explicam 25% da variância em renda criminal. Finalmente, os resultados sugerem que estimativas que ignoram o background familiar induzem vieses significantes no efeito de variáveis, tais como raça e educação na propensão de jovens a participar de crimes patrimoniais.

Palavras-chave: efeitos de família, crime, variáveis latentes, dados longitudinais.


 

 

Full text available only in PDF format.

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

 

 

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(Recebido em maio de 2003. Aceito para publicação em janeiro de 2004)

 

 

I am grateful to Shelly Lundberg, Robert Pollak, Raaj Sah, Barbara Schone, Jeffrey Wooldridge , and two anonymous referees for many helpful comments and suggestions.The views expressed in the paper are those of the author.No official endorsement by either the Medical College of Wisconsin or the Health Policy Institute is intended or should be inferred. lpezzin@mcw.edu

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