Summer 2016 issue of the Expert Witness newsletter (volume 20, issue 2)


This issue contains two articles. In the first, Christopher Bruce and Derek Aldridge examine the effect of a criminal record on earnings. In the second, Christopher Bruce and Kelly Rathje discuss the structure and content of expert cost of care reports.

The Effect of Incarceration on Future Earnings

  • In the first article, Dr. Bruce and Mr. Aldridge find that the literature regarding the effect of a criminal record on income suggests incarceration has a relatively small effect on lifetime earnings. Those who have been incarcerated tend to have lower levels of income than those without a criminal record, not because incarceration has changed their vocational/economic outcomes, but because they are drawn from a group with relatively low income to begin with. Further, the length of a person’s incarceration (holding the severity of the crime constant) appeared to have little impact on earnings, except in the case of “white collar” crime such as fraud or embezzlement. The literature suggests that individuals with supportive family ties, such as those living with their spouses and children, were the most successful at transitioning back into the workforce. In addition, the likelihood of recidivism decreased as an individual aged (i.e., those 30 and 40 year olds who were incarcerated in their early 20s are not likely to become repeat offenders).

The Structure of a Cost of Care Report

  • In the second article, Dr. Bruce and Ms. Rathje provide an economist’s perspective on various issues that arise in the presentation of cost of care reports. These include issues such as incremental costs, requirements that will vary over a plaintiff’s lifetime, the approach to ranges of estimates for costs or replacement frequencies, the costs of housekeepers and personal care attendants, and presentation. They also provide a sample calculation, to illustrate the issues discussed in the article.