The Economics of Female Recidivism

A Study of TARP Women Ex-Offenders



    1. Arizona State University
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    • Nancy C. Jurik is an assistant professor in the Center for the Study of Justice at Arizona State University. She received her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1980. Her research interests include gender and crime, and the sociology of work. She is currently completing two research projects in the corrections realm: one, a study of the work process of state prison correctional officers; the other, an examination of the structural dimensions of role conflict among female correctional officers.

  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wish to acknowledge the financial support of the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, which, under the direction of Howard Rosen, funded the Transitional Aid Research Project. Iam greatly indebted to Peter H. Rossi, Richard A. Berk, and Kenneth P. Lenihan for allowing me to use the models they developed for their analysis. Anthony Shih, Patrick Henry, Eleanor Weber-Burdin, and Jeffery Liker also provided invaluable help in setting up the data. My thanks also go to Julie Ross for typing this manuscript. Last but by no means least, I am grateful for helpful comments from William T. Bielby, Donald R. Cressey, Gregory J. Halemba, two anonymous reviewers, and especially Richard A. Berk in the development of this article.


This article examines the effect of economic incentives on the rearrest rates of 125 women ex-felons. The data are drawn from the TARP experiment designed around the premise that individuals steal largely out of economic need. Many criminologists have argued that female crime is sexual and emotional rather than rational and economic in nature. Results, however, support the expectation that unemployment compensation and employment are negatively associated with rearrests for economic crimes. Also, exogenous factors of criminal background and marital status reveal important differences in post-release behavior.