From The Economist:

For the first time in decades, America and Europe are now releasing more prisoners than they are locking up. One way to ensure those ex-cons do not wind up back behind bars is to help them find work. But a body of new research suggests one increasingly popular way to promote this has worrying unintended consequences.

Forcing job applicants to declare they have a criminal record—whether or not it is relevant to the post—allows employers to filter out ex-convicts, it is argued, and prevents them finding the sort of work that would help them stay out of prison. So activists across the world have called for “ban-the-box” laws, which prohibit employers from inquiring about criminal histories prior to job interviews or offers.


A paper by Jennifer Doleac [’03] of the University of Virginia and Benjamin Hansen of the University of Oregon, published on August 1st, looked at the impact of introducing ban-the-box policies on labour-market data from America’s population census. It found that withholding criminal-record data from employers encouraged them to treat certain minority groups as if they were more likely to have criminal pasts.

Read the whole thing. Doleac is EphBlog’s favorite (non-Williams-employed) economist. Recall our discussion of her thesis more than 10 years ago.

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