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Better Schools, Less Crime?

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  • David J. Deming

Abstract

I estimate the impact of attending a first-choice middle or high school on adult crime, using data from public school choice lotteries in Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district (CMS). Seven years after random assignment, lottery winners had been arrested for fewer serious crimes and had spent fewer days incarcerated. The gain in school quality as measured by peer and teacher inputs was equivalent to moving from one of the lowest-ranked schools to one at the district average. The reduction in crime comes largely from years after enrollment in the preferred school is complete. The impacts are concentrated among high-risk youth, who commit about 50% less crime across several different outcome measures and scalings of crime by severity. I find suggestive evidence that school quality explains more of the impact in high school, whereas peer effects are more important in middle school. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/qje/qjr036
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 126 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 2063-2115

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Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:126:y:2011:i:4:p:2063-2115

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Cited by:
  1. Lance Lochner, 2010. "Education Policy and Crime," NBER Working Papers 15894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Meghir, Costas & Palme, Mårten & Schnabel, Marieke, 2011. "The effect of education policy on crime: an intergenerational perspective," Working Paper Series 2011:20, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  3. Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer, Jr., 2011. "Exam High Schools and Academic Achievement: Evidence from New York City," NBER Working Papers 17286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Richard J. Murnane, 2013. "U.S High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations," NBER Working Papers 18701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David J. Deming & Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2011. "School Choice, School Quality and Postsecondary Attainment," NBER Working Papers 17438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Sara Heller & Harold A. Pollack & Roseanna Ander & Jens Ludwig, 2013. "Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout: A Randomized Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 19014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Sara B. Heller & Brian A. Jacob & Jens Ludwig, 2010. "Family Income, Neighborhood Poverty, and Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, pages 419-459 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Brugård, Kaja Høiseth & Falch, Torberg, 2013. "Post-compulsory education and imprisonment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 97-106.
  9. Dustmann, Christian & Puhani, Patrick A. & Schönberg, Uta, 2014. "The Long-Term Effects of Early Track Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 7897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Carvalho, Leandro & Soares, Rodrigo R., 2013. "Living on the Edge: Youth Entry, Career and Exit in Drug-Selling Gangs," IZA Discussion Papers 7189, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Stephen B. Billings & David J. Deming & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2012. "School Segregation, Educational Attainment and Crime: Evidence from the end of busing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg," NBER Working Papers 18487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. David J. Deming, 2014. "Using School Choice Lotteries to Test Measures of School Effectiveness," NBER Working Papers 19803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. C. Kirabo Jackson, 2010. "Can Higher-Achieving Peers Explain the Benefits to Attending Selective Schools?: Evidence from Trinidad and Tobago," NBER Working Papers 16598, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Randi Hjalmarsson & Lance Lochner, 2012. "The Impact of Education on Crime: International Evidence," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 10(2), pages 49-55, 08.
  15. Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2013. "The Medium-Term Impacts of High-Achieving Charter Schools on Non-Test Score Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 19581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Kaja Høiseth Brugård & Torberg Falch, 2012. "Student performance and imprisonment," Working Paper Series 13212, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

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