Parents, Neighbors and Youth Crime

29 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2020

See all articles by Carlos Diaz

Carlos Diaz

Universidad Católica del Uruguay

Eleonora Patacchini

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) ; IZA Institute of Labor Economics


We study the interplay between parental and peer socialization in shaping criminal behavior among adolescents. We develop a simple cultural transmission model where parents affect how society influences their children's decisions. The model predicts that parental and peer socialization are substitutes in the development of juvenile crime. We then take the model to the data using information on a representative sample of adolescents in the United States. Using the geographical distances be- tween residential addresses of individuals in the same grade and school to measure peer influences, we find that negative peer effects on juvenile crime are significantly lower for teenagers with engaged mothers. Consistently with the prediction of our model, this evidence reveals an important role of parents in mediating the impact of neighborhoods on youth crime. The influence of parents is especially important for drug trafficking, assault and battery.

JEL Classification: J13, K42, R11, R23, Z13

Suggested Citation

Diaz, Carlos and Patacchini, Eleonora, Parents, Neighbors and Youth Crime. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13906, Available at SSRN:

Carlos Diaz (Contact Author)

Universidad Católica del Uruguay ( email )

Av 8 de Octubre
Montevideo, Montevideo

Eleonora Patacchini

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) ( email )

Via Due Macelli, 73
Rome, 00187

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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