Are you an aspiring mob boss steadily climbing the ranks? If so, you may want to re-think having kids: a new study suggests they may derail your criminal career.
That’s because the paper from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley has discovered an unexpected criminal deterrent. It turns out that the mere knowledge that you’re soon to become a parent slashes your chance of committing a crime.
As soon as a man’s partner falls pregnant, his crime rate plummets by 25 per cent. For women, the repercussions are even more stark with crime rates tumbling 50 per cent.
These are mind-blowing figures in the context of existing research into criminal deterrents. A study published in the The Journal of Human Resources, for example, showed the threat of getting an additional 20-year sentence to life, only reduced the chance of reoffending by a measly 17 per cent.
As the authors of the Californian study explain: “Our event-study analysis indicates that pregnancy triggers sharp declines in crime rivalling any known intervention.”
So what exactly is it about the prospect of parenthood that makes people clean up their act?
The researchers speculate that “turning points such as marriage and childbirth have the potential to spur drastic life improvements, independent of past circumstances, by strengthening social bonds.”
But the study also hints the prospect of fatherhood goes beyond that by encouraging men to look beyond the here and now. They quote another case-study in which at-risk fathers were asked how they reacted after learning of their partner’s pregnancy.
“Upon hearing the news that the woman they are ‘with’ is expecting, men such as Byron are suddenly transformed,” it read. “This part-time cab driver and sometime weed dealer almost immediately secured a city job in the sanitation department.”
The sub-text is that the advent of kids makes it harder to retain a short-term mindset. The incoming responsibility of parenthood could nudge you to start thinking harder about the future.