Jurisdictions across the United States have implemented “ban the box” policies that prevent employers from asking about job applicants’ criminal records until late in the hiring process. These policies aim to improve employment outcomes for people with criminal records and reduce racial disparities in employment. However, research shows that they instead increase racial discrimination by employers without producing meaningful benefits for people with criminal records. Jennifer Doleac, associate professor of economics at Texas A&M University, the founder and director of the Justice Tech Lab, and a nonresident fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, will discuss the empirical evidence on ban the box policies and present alternative strategies that may be more effective.
Doleac studies the economics of crime and discrimination, with a particular focus on how technology and surveillance affect public safety. Her work addresses topics such as DNA databases, gun violence, prisoner re-entry, and the opioid crisis.
Her research has been supported by several governmental and philanthropic organizations, and published in leading academic journals including the Review of Economics and Statistics, the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, and the Economic Journal. Doleac’s work has been highlighted in media outlets including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and Time.
Doleac holds a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University and a B.A. in mathematics and economics from Williams College. She has spoken at Interpol and the White House, and her research on DNA databases was cited in the Supreme Court’s Maryland v. King case. She was an NBER/NSF Crime Research Fellow, and previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Congressional Budget Office.
Generously supported by the Freedom Project, co-sponsored by the Department of Economics.