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Youth Crime and Education Expansion

  • Stephen Machin
  • Olivier Marie
  • Sunčica Vujić

We present new evidence on the causal impact of education on crime, by considering a large expansion of the UK post-compulsory education system that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The education expansion raised education levels across the whole education distribution and, in particular for our analysis, at the bottom end enabling us to develop an instrumental variable strategy to study the crime-education relationship. At the same time as the education expansion, youth crime fell, revealing a significant cross-cohort relationship between crime and education. The causal crime reducing effect of education is estimated to be negative and significant, and considerably bigger in (absolute) magnitude than ordinary least squares estimates. The education boost also significantly impacted other productivity related economic variables (qualification attainment and wages), demonstrating that the incapacitation effect of additional time spent in school is not the sole driver of the results.

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Article provided by Verein für Socialpolitik in its journal German Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 13 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 366-384

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Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:13:y:2012:i:4:p:366-384
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  1. Paul J Devereux & Robert A Hart, 2009. "Forced to be Rich? Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Britain," Working Papers 200924, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  2. Machin, Stephen & Marie, Olivier & Vujić, Sunčica, 2010. "The Crime Reducing Effect of Education," IZA Discussion Papers 5000, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Jo Blanden & Stephen Machin, 2004. "Educational Inequality and the Expansion of UK Higher Education," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(2), pages 230-249, 05.
  4. 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.
  5. Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2008. "Criminal justice involvement and high school completion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 613-630, March.
  6. Tauchen, Helen & Witte, Ann Dryden & Griesinger, Harriet, 1994. "Criminal Deterrence: Revisiting the Issue with a Birth Cohort," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 399-412, August.
  7. Devereux, Paul J. & Fan, Wen, 2011. "Earnings returns to the British education expansion," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1153-1166.
  8. Ricardo Sabates & Leon Feinstein, 2008. "Effects of government initiatives on youth crime," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 462-483, July.
  9. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  10. Lance Lochner, 2011. "Non-Production Benefits of Education: Crime, Health, and Good Citizenship," NBER Working Papers 16722, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lance Lochner, 2004. "Education, Work, And Crime: A Human Capital Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 811-843, 08.
  12. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2004. "Crime and Economic Incentives," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
  14. 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.
  15. Naci H. Mocan & Bulent Unel, 2011. "Skill-biased Technological Change, Earnings of Unskilled Workers, and Crime," NBER Working Papers 17605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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