Friday, July 17, 2015
Megan Stevenson (Quattrone Center- University of Pennsylvania Law School) has posted Breaking Bad: Mechanisms of Social Influence and the Path to Criminality in Juvenile Jails on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Using rich data on youths in juvenile correctional facilities, I conduct a series of tests of peer influence on future crime motivated by three mechanisms: criminal skill transfer, the formation of new criminal networks, and the social contagion of crime-oriented attitudes and behavioral habits. Identifying peer influence off of natural variation in small cohorts within the same facility, I find evidence consistent with the social contagion mechanism: exposure to peers who come from unstable homes and who have behavioral/emotional problems leads to a large increase in crime after release, as well as an increase in crime-oriented non-cognitive factors. I also find evidence consistent with persistent network formation, but only in settings which unite youths from the same local area. Multiple tests of the identifying assumptions support the causal argument.