New IZA Discussion paper - Small Children, Big Problems: Childbirth and Crime


A new discussion paper by CLEAN researchers Diogo Britto, Paolo Pinotti, and Breno Sampaio, coathored with Roberto Hsu Rocha (PhD candidate at UC Berkeley), is now available on the IZA website. Check it out at this link!

The working paper, titled "Small Children, Big Problems: Childbirth and Crime", deals with the effects of having a child on parents' criminal behavior. Contrary to what economic and sociological theories suggest, the researchers use administrative data from Brazil to isolate a markedly positive effect on the likelihood of committing a crime. Interestingly, fatherhood brings about an increase of around 10% in the risk of being prosecuted in the time between conception and childbirth, which rises to 30% in the following years. For mothers, there is a temporary drop in criminal behavior around childbirth, which then returns to pre-childbirth levels within a few months.

The findings are at odds with similar results from the United States and can be explained by the costs of parenthood and the pervasive risk of poverty for first-time parents in Brazil. Consistently with this explanation, maternity benefits appear to be able to offset much of this increase in crime among fathers after childbirth.

Event-study graph representing the increase in crime among new parents by gender