Crime and Parenthood: Factors Affecting the Outcomes of Adolescents With and Without Disabilities

Working Paper 37
Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research
Mar 11, 2015
Todd C. Honeycutt and David R. Mann

BACKGROUND: Adolescents often engage in behaviors that can detrimentally affect outcomes for the rest of their lives. In addition to avoiding such behaviors, youth with disabilities face other challenges that complicate their transitions into adulthood.

OBJECTIVE: In this analysis, we explore how two risk factors (criminal behavior and parenthood) in adolescence influenced the education and employment outcomes of young adults. We pay special attention to the interaction between disability status and these factors.

METHOD: Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we produce summary statistics and estimate several regression models; examining respondent outcomes at age 24.

RESULTS: Despite increased prevalence among youth with disabilities, parenthood and crime did not appear to affect education or employment outcomes any more than these factors affected the outcomes of youth without disabilities.

CONCLUSION: Multiple risk factors are intertwined and are associated with poorer outcomes, which suggest the need for better identification issues and supports in secondary school. The issue of higher prevalence of dropping out of high school and having certain risk factors might reflect the lower cognitive ability of youth with mental limitations, but environmental factors could also be influential.