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Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

School of Public Policy

School ofPublic Policy

Holly Nguyen

Holly Nguyen

Associate Professor of Sociology, Criminology, and Public Policy
Director, Undergraduate Program in Criminology

905 Oswald Tower

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 863-5404


Curriculum Vitae:

Holly Nguyen Profile Image



Holly Nguyen is director of Penn State’s Criminology Undergraduate Program in the Department of Criminology and Sociology and an associate professor of sociology, criminology, and public policy. Her primary research interest can be categorized under the broad umbrella of “employment and crime”, with employment loosely defined as any activity (legal, informal, illegal) that generates income. She approaches her research through a “crime as work” framework, which views criminal behavior as not fundamentally different from conventional behaviors and could be examined as such.

Nguyen’s work has touched on the determinants of illegal labor supply, monetary returns from crime, the relationship between legal employment, and crime and informal employment and crime. She also enjoys examining various aspects of illicit drug markets.

Nguyen is currently engaged in several research projects. First, she is interested in understanding the dynamic patterns of the “life course of a prison stay.” Using administrative data from the PA Department of Corrections, she is able to create a detailed monthly life calendar for an inmate’s entire prison stay. Second, she is also using various sources of secondary data to investigate the many aspects of the relationship between employment and crime, contingent and informal employment and crime, and monetary returns from crime.

Research interests:

Rewards from Crime, Employment and Crime, Illicit Drug Markets, Criminological Theory


Research Papers:

Justice Quarterly. Published online: 16 Dec 2020
Kyle J. Thomas & Holly Nguyen

Journal of Quantitative Criminology Online First 38239–265 (2022)

Holly Nguyen, Thomas A. Loughran, Carlo Morselli & Frédéric Ouellet

Journal of Quantitative Criminology  (2021)

Nguyen, H., Parker, B.R. & Simpson, S.S.

Criminology & Public Policy. 2021; 20: 329– 349

Nguyen, H, Midgette, G, Loughran, T, Zhang, Y