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April 24, 2024

"Degrees of difference: Do college credentials earned behind bars improve labor market outcomes?"

The title of this post is the title of this new Criminology article authored by Abby Ballou.  Here is its abstract:

It is widely held that providing postsecondary education programs to incarcerated individuals will improve postrelease labor market outcomes. Little research evidence exists, however, to support this view.  To test the effect of postsecondary carceral education credentials on employer perceptions of hireability, the current study uses a factorial design to survey a sample of employers nationwide (N = 2,538).  Employers were presented with résumés of fictional applicants applying to a job as a customer service representative at a large call center.  The résumés randomized education credentials earned while incarcerated. 

Results indicate that employers were significantly more willing to interview applicants with postsecondary education credentials relative to applicants with only a General Educational Development (GED) diploma.  Although Black applicants who had earned a sub-baccalaureate certificate saw improvements in hireability relative to GED holders, Black applicants who had earned a bachelor's degree did not.  In contrast, White applicants benefited both from sub-baccalaureate certificates and bachelor's degrees.  Results from a mediation analysis suggest that these credentials signal important information to employers about applicant attributes and that improved perceptions of applicant ability and likelihood to reoffend drive the overall effect.  Implications for future research and policy are explored.

April 24, 2024 at 09:18 AM | Permalink


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