The Role of Incarceration and Child Support
In this paper, we document the continuing decline in employment and labor force participation of black men between the ages of 16 and 34 who have a high school education or less. We explore the extent to which these trends can be accounted for in recent years by two fairly new developments: (1) The dramatic growth in the number of young black men who have been incarcerated; and (2) strengthened enforcement of child support policies. We use micro-level data from the Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Groups (CPS-ORG), along with state-level data over time on incarceration rates and child support enforcement, to test these hypotheses. Our results indicate that post-incarceration effects and child support policies both contribute to the decline in employment activity among young black less-educated men in the past two decades, especially among those age 25-34.