Document Type

Working Paper

Date of This Version



Labor Demand, Labor Market Discrimination, Consequences of Incarceration

JEL Classification

J18, J78, K31


Past literature has established that individuals who have been incarcerated face difficulties reentering the work force following their release, while finding and keeping a job can significantly reduce recidivism amongst individuals with prior criminal convictions. In attempt to improve employment outcomes, many local and state governments in the United States have initiated "Ban the Box" regulations. These initiatives delay inquiries regarding criminal history on job applications. Versions of ban the box regulations covering public sector employment have been enacted in 31 states and more than 150 local governments. Ban the box laws have included private employers in eleven states and over 30 metropolitan areas including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. This study uses biennial data from November CPS reports from 2004 through 2016 to estimate the impact of ban the box laws on labor market outcomes using a unique proxy to identify individuals with a criminal record. With a few exceptions, the results do not show the intended improvements in employment and other labor market measures for those with a criminal history.

Working Paper Number




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