DP8318 The Origins of Intergenerational Associations in Crime: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data

Author(s): Randi Hjalmarsson, Matthew Lindquist
Publication Date: April 2011
Keyword(s): adoption, crime, illegal behavior, intergenerational crime, intergenerational mobility, risky behavior
JEL(s): J62, K42
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=8318

We use Swedish adoption data combined with police register data to study parent-son associations in crime. For adopted sons born in Sweden, we have access to the criminal records of both the adopting and biological parents. This allows us to assess the relative importance of pre-birth factors (genes, prenatal environment and perinatal conditions) and post-birth factors for generating parent-son associations in crime. We find that pre-birth and post-birth factors are both important determinants of sons? convictions and that mothers and fathers contribute equally through these two channels. We find little evidence of interaction effects between biological and adoptive parents? criminal convictions. Having a more highly educated adoptive mother, however, does appear to mitigate the impact of biological parents? criminality.