A large share of the U.S. population has been convicted or incarcerated at some point in their lifetimes; criminal justice policies driving these trends disproportionately affect low income populations and people of color. There is growing evidence of the economic consequences of criminal justice involvement – for instance, a criminal record makes it more difficult for individuals to find gainful employment after their sentences are complete. Negative impacts on labor force participation and employment raise questions about how this population will survive in old age, and whether our current safety net is capable of keeping individuals with criminal records out of poverty. In this project we will link a new database of administrative data on criminal records (CJARS) with Census data on employment during the life course and income and program participation in old age, to provide the first descriptive study of the economic well-being of people with criminal records who have reached retirement age. This descriptive study will form the basis for subsequent research on the causal effects of criminal justice policy on economic well-being in old age.
IRP20-01: “What Does Retirement Look Like for the Criminal-Justice-Involved Population? Sources of Income in Old Age for People with Criminal Records