Dr. Paul Bellair



"Unraveling Relations Among Employment, Drug Use, and Crime with a Weekly Calendar"


Dr. Paul Bellair


The objective of this project is to collect data to study the independent and joint influences of high quality employment experiences (full time versus part-time, emotional attachment, higher income, occupation) and neighborhood disadvantage (poverty, unemployment, presence of drug selling/open air drug markets) on usage of a variety of hard drugs and criminal involvement in a high-risk sample (probationers or prisoners).  I am requesting one month of summer salary to (1) develop a unique instrument to measure hard drug use and its causes and consequences more comprehensively and in greater detail than past research, and (2) to begin preparing an NIH proposal for submission.  The weekly calendar will be assembled building off of a monthly calendar with proven reliability and validity as a baseline platform.[i] The new data collection form will be the foundation of a grant proposal (NIH or NSF) to collect original data, and will provide much greater precision in establishing causality, especially causal order, than monthly or yearly follow-up periods.  The data collection addresses the following methodological and substantive aims, but will address a much wider range of phenomena with improved measurement including but limited to social networks, mental/physical health, and addiction. A primary objective is to carefully evaluate (1a) whether weekly self-reports of drug use and crime are reliable using the split halves method, and (1b) whether they are valid using criterion or construct validity methods.  Substantive aims include:  (2a) Do high quality employment experiences help constrain trajectories of hard drug use?  (2b) Are the effects of high quality employment experiences on hard drug use moderated by neighborhood disadvantage (among others)? (3a) Does usage of hard drugs pattern criminal involvement including drug selling, property and violent crime, and post-prison recidivism, and (3b) are those effects enhanced or constrained by high quality employment experiences and neighborhood disadvantage (among other potential moderators)?

[i] James Sutton, Paul E. Bellair, Brian R. Kowalski, Ryan Light, and Donald Hutcherson.  2011.  “Reliability and validity of prisoner self-reports gathered using the life event calendar method.” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 27: 151-171.