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The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports

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  • Lance Lochner
  • Enrico Moretti

Abstract

We estimate the effect of education on participation in criminal activity using changes in state compulsory schooling laws over time to account for the endogeneity of schooling decisions. Using Census and FBI data, we find that schooling significantly reduces the probability of incarceration and arrest. NLSY data indicate that our results are caused by changes in criminal behavior and not differences in the probability of arrest or incarceration conditional on crime. We estimate that the social savings from crime reduction associated with high school graduation (for men) is about 14 -26 percent of the private return.

Suggested Citation

  • Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:1:p:155-189
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282804322970751
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-290, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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