Effect of Employer Access to Criminal History Data on the Labor Market Outcomes of Ex-Offenders and Non-Offenders

Keith Finlay, Tulane University

Employers express a strong aversion to hiring ex-offenders, but there is likely asymmetric information about criminal records. Since 1997, states have begun to make criminal history records publicly available over the Internet. Wider availability of criminal history records should adversely affect the labor market outcomes of ex-offenders. A model of statistical discrimination also predicts that non-offenders from groups with high rates of criminal offense should have improved labor market outcomes when criminal history records become more accessible. This paper tests these hypotheses with criminal and labor market histories from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 (NLSY97). Labor market outcomes are worse for ex-offenders once state criminal history records become available over the Internet; however, non-offenders from highly offending groups do not appear, however, to have significantly better labor market outcomes. The sign of the non-offenders estimates are consistent with the predictions of the statistical discrimination model, but the estimates are not significantly different from zero.

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Presented in Session 46: Crime and the Labor Market