HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.


We experimentally test several approaches to increasing the demand for workers with a criminal record on a nationwide staffing platform by addressing potential downside risk and productivity concerns. The staffing platform asked hiring managers to make a series of hypothetical hiring decisions that affected whether workers with a criminal record could accept their jobs in the future. We find that 39% of businesses in our sample are willing to work with individuals with a criminal record at baseline, which rises to over 50% when businesses are offered crime and safety insurance, a single performance review, or a limited background check covering just the past year. Wage subsidies can achieve similar increases but at a substantially higher cost. Based on our findings, the staffing platform relaxed the criminal background check requirement and offered crime and safety insurance to interested businesses.


Cullen, Zoe, Will Dobbie, and Mitchell Hoffman. "Increasing the Demand for Workers with a Criminal Record." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 38.1 (February 2023): 103-150.