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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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Working Paper

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This paper estimates the impact of labor demand on the employment and recidivism outcomes of released prisoners. Higher labor demand at release generates higher earnings and lower recidivism. Reduced recidivism persists after controlling for the observed labor market outcomes of the returning cohort, suggesting that labor demand impacts crime through channels beyond the direct formal employment of returning prisoners. Difference-in-differences based evidence suggests Ban the Box (BTB) policies delaying when employers can ask about criminal records improve labor market outcomes and lower recidivism for misdemeanor defendants. Evidence for felony defendants and returning prisoners is mixed but suggestive of similar patterns.

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