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The Crime Reducing Effect of Education

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Author Info

  • Stephen Machin
  • Olivier Marie
  • Sunčica Vujić

Abstract

In this paper, we present evidence on empirical connections between crime and education, using various data sources from Britain. A robust finding is that criminal activity is negatively associated with higher levels of education. However, it is essential to ensure that the direction of causation flows from education to crime. Therefore, we identify the effect of education on participation in criminal activity using changes in compulsory school leaving age laws over time to account for the endogeneity of education. In this causal approach, for property crimes, the negative crime-education relationship remains strong and significant. The implications of these findings are unambiguous and clear. They show that improving education can yield significant social benefits and can be a key policy tool in the drive to reduce crime.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 121 (2011)
Issue (Month): 552 (05)
Pages: 463-484

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:121:y:2011:i:552:p:463-484

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References

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  1. Orla Doyle & Colm Harmon & Ian Walker, 2007. "The Impact of Parental Income and Education on Child Health. Further Evidence for England," Working Papers 200706, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  2. Steven D. Levitt & Lance Lochner, 2001. "The Determinants of Juvenile Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 327-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Arnaud Chevalier & Colm Harmon & Vincent O'Sullivan & Ian Walker, 2005. "The impact of parental income and education on the schooling of their children," IFS Working Papers W05/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  4. Philip Oreopoulos, 2006. "Estimating Average and Local Average Treatment Effects of Education when Compulsory Schooling Laws Really Matter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 152-175, March.
  5. Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2008. "Criminal justice involvement and high school completion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 613-630, March.
  6. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental Education and Childs Education: A Natural Experiment," CEE Discussion Papers 0040, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  7. Maarten Lindeboom & Ana Llena Nozal & Bas van der Klaauw, 2006. "Parental Education and Child Health: Evidence from a Schooling Reform," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-109/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2003. "Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration and Juvenile Crime," NBER Working Papers 9653, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Steve Machin & Costas Meghir, 2000. "Crime and economic incentives," IFS Working Papers W00/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 1995. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling for the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1278-86, December.
  11. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Do dropouts drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2213-2229, December.
  12. Isaac Ehrlich, 1975. "On the Relation between Education and Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Education, Income, and Human Behavior, pages 313-338 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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