Uggen, Christopher. 2000. “Work as a Turning Point in the Life Course of Criminals: A Duration Model of Age, Employment, and Recidivism.” American Sociological Review 65:529-46.




Sociologists have increasingly emphasized “turning points” in explaining behavioral change over the life course. This paper asks whether work is a turning point in the life course of criminal offenders: If criminals are provided with jobs, are they likely to stop committing crime? Prior research is inconclusive because work effects have been biased by selectivity and obscured by the interaction of age and employment. I obtain more refined estimates by specifying event history models of assignment to, eligibility for, and current participation in a national work experiment for criminal offenders. Age is found to interact with employment to affect the rate of self-reported recidivism: those aged 27 or older are less likely to report crime and arrest when provided a marginal employment opportunity than when such an opportunity is not provided. Among younger participants, those in their teens and early twenties, the experimental job treatment had little effect on crime. Work is thus a turning point for older, but not younger, offenders.