Hanging Out with the Usual Suspects: Peer Effects and Recidivism

Published in Journal of Human Resources (forthcoming), 2020

Recommended citation: Billings, Stephen B., and Kevin T. Schnepel (2020). "Hanging Out with the Usual Suspects: Peer Effects and Recidivism." Journal of Human Resources. Forthcoming.

Abstract: Social interactions within neighborhoods, schools and detention facilities are important determinants of criminal behavior. However, little is known about the degree to which neighborhood peers affect successful community re-entry following incarceration. This paper measures the influence of social networks on recidivism by exploiting the fact that neighborhood peers may be locked up when a prisoner returns home. Using detailed arrest and incarceration data that includes residential addresses for offenders, we find consistent and robust evidence that a former inmate is less likely to reoffend if more of his peers are held captive while he reintegrates into society.

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