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Preventing criminal minds: Early education access and adult offending behavior

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  • Brutti, Zelda
  • Montolio, Daniel

Abstract

In this paper we estimate the impact of higher early preschool access on offending behavior later in time, exploiting a nationwide public preschool expansion that took place in Spain over the 1990s. This is the first study providing evidence on the relationship between preschool and crime using a large-scale, universal-access program rather than targeted initiatives reserved for disadvantaged children. Our identification strategy relies on the staggered implementation of the Spanish preschool expansion across regions and birth cohorts. We link the education data to a unique administrative crime dataset recording the offenses committed in the region of Catalonia over the period 2009–2014. On average, a 1 percentage point increase in preschool access among the age 0–3 population yields 1.6% fewer crime actions during youth and young adulthood. Larger effects on impulsive-crime categories provide suggestive evidence for non-cognitive-skills improvements being important drivers of our results.

Suggested Citation

  • Brutti, Zelda & Montolio, Daniel, 2021. "Preventing criminal minds: Early education access and adult offending behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 191(C), pages 97-126.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:191:y:2021:i:c:p:97-126
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2021.08.035
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    3. Raquel Bernal & Michele Giannola & Milagros Nores, 2023. "The effects of a project and play-based early education program on medium term developmental trajectories of young children in a low-income setting," CSEF Working Papers 665, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public preschool; Early education; Universal preschool; Kindergarden; Offending behavior; Crime; Noncognitive skills; Spain;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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