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Why Does Education Reduce Crime?

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  • Bell, Brian
  • Costa, Rui
  • Machin, Stephen

Abstract

Prior research shows reduced criminality to be a beneficial consequence of education policies that raise the school leaving age. This paper studies how crime reductions occurred in a sequence of state-level dropout age reforms enacted between 1980 and 2010 in the United States. These reforms changed the shape of crime-age profiles, reflecting both a temporary incapacitation effect and a more sustained, longer run crime reducing effect. In contrast to the previous research looking at earlier US education reforms, crime reduction does not arise solely as a result of education improvements, and so the observed longer run effect is interpreted as dynamic incapacitation. Additional evidence based on longitudinal data combined with an education reform from a different setting in Australia corroborates the finding of dynamic incapacitation underpinning education policy-induced crime reduction.

Suggested Citation

  • Bell, Brian & Costa, Rui & Machin, Stephen, 2018. "Why Does Education Reduce Crime?," CEPR Discussion Papers 13162, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13162
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    3. Beatton, Tony & Kidd, Michael P. & Sandi, Matteo, 2020. "School indiscipline and crime," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 108475, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Neumark, David & Shupe, Cortnie, 2019. "Declining teen employment: minimum wages, returns to schooling, and immigration," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 49-68.
    5. Sinning, Mathias & Zhang, Yinjunjie, 2021. "Social Norms or Enforcement? A Natural Field Experiment to Improve Traffic and Parking Fine Compliance," IZA Discussion Papers 14252, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    7. McEachin, Andrew & Lauen, Douglas Lee & Fuller, Sarah Crittenden & Perera, Rachel M., 2020. "Social returns to private choice? Effects of charter schools on behavioral outcomes, arrests, and civic participation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    8. Bastian, Jacob E. & Jones, Maggie R., 2021. "Do EITC expansions pay for themselves? Effects on tax revenue and government transfers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 196(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Compulsory schooling laws; Crime age profiles; School dropout;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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