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Posted by on Jan 16, 2012 in Economy, Politics | 8 comments

Incarceration & Unemployment, Europe & the U.S.

Steve Roth wonders, how do incarceration rates affect unemployment numbers?

Europe has consistently higher unemployment than the U.S., but the U.S. has far and away the highest incarceration rate in the world — .75% of the population. (World Prison Population List [PDF], compiled since 1992 by Roy Walmsley of the International Centre for Prison Studies.)

Only Russia comes even close, at .63%. (Canada: .12%. Australia: .13%. China .18%. Germany .09%.) Our rate is four to eight times that of most other countries.

Prisoners aren’t part of the unemployment calculation. They’re not counted as part of the work force, and they’re not counted as unemployed. There are various arguments about whether that makes sense (feel free to comment), but if we include them in the calculations, what do unemployment rates look like? …

In 2008, all of the difference between EU15 and U.S. unemployment rates is accounted for by the prison population. The cynical view would say that we just imprison our unemployed, which doesn’t strike me as the most economically efficient arrangement.

You could fairly call me cynical.

KIND OF RELATED – The New Miss America’s Cause: Children of the Incarcerated. Laura Kaeppeler, Ms. Wisconsin, the newly crowned Miss America was one:

From her website:

  • Nationwide, more than two million children have a parent who is incarcerated in state or federal prison or local jail.
  • Children with imprisoned parents are almost six times more likely than their peers to become incarcerated at some point in their lives.
  • About one in 40 children have an incarcerated father.
  • More than ten million children have parents who were at one time imprisoned.
  • About one in 359 children have an incarcerated mother.
  • There is no one agency responsible for their welfare.
  • Anger, isolation, sadness, fear, anxiety and guilt are commonly experienced emotions for these children.
  • School failure, delinquency and intergenerational incarceration are common outcomes.
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