Voter Approved Annexations and Urban Growth Boundaries: The Impacts on Housing Values and Land Efficiency, with Dr. Rebecca Lewis, Robert Parker, Zhenpeng Zou, Winston Hovekamp, and Megan McGowen (June 2018). Growth and Change.

Works in Progress:

“Ban the Box” Legislation and Criminal Recidivism.


Employment has long been seen as a mechanism for reducing criminal recidivism. As such, many states and municipalities have tried to increase the employment prospects of ex-offenders through “Ban the Box” (BTB) policies, making it illegal to ask about an individual’s criminal history on a job application. There are, however, questions as to how effective these policies are at helping ex-offenders successfully stay out of prison. In addition, recent research has shown that BTB policies may lead employers to racially discriminate in hiring. Using administrative prison data, this paper examines the direct effect of BTB policies on rates of criminal recidivism. I find that while most BTB policies don’t appear to reduce criminal recidivism overall, these policies induce racial discrimination. In particular, I find that being released into a labor market with a BTB policy is associated with higher rates of recidivism for black ex-offenders, with little to no effect for white ex-offenders. I also find that different types of BTB policies have differential effects. Namely, I find that BTB policies which apply to private employers are shown to reduce recidivism, although the effect is smaller for black ex-offenders.