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The Effect of Education on Criminal Convictions and Incarceration: Causal Evidence from Micro-data

  • Hjalmarsson, Randi
  • Holmlund, Helena
  • Lindquist, Matthew

This paper studies the causal effect of educational attainment on conviction and incarceration using Sweden's compulsory schooling reform as an instrument for years of schooling and a 25 percent random sample from Sweden's Multigenerational Register matched with more than 30 years of administrative crime records. The first stage of the analysis employs a differences-in-differences design to account for the non-random implementation of the reform across municipalities, and finds that exposure to the reform increased average educational attainment by 0.28 years for males and 0.16 years for females. Our 2SLS estimates indicate that more schooling has a significant negative effect on convictions and incarceration at both the extensive and intensive margins. These effects are generally seen for both males and females. Specifically, one additional year of schooling decreases the likelihood of incarceration by 16 percent for males and the likelihood of conviction by 7.5 and 11 percent for males and females, respectively. In addition, we find that the effect of education on crime persists across birth cohorts, throughout the life cycle, and across crime categories.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8646.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8646
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  1. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Elena Rouse & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Estimating Returns to Schooling When Schooling is Misreported," NBER Working Papers 7235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Stephen Machin & Olivier Marie & Sunčica Vujić, 2011. "The Crime Reducing Effect of Education," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(552), pages 463-484, 05.
  3. Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2008. "Criminal justice involvement and high school completion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 613-630, March.
  4. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2009. "How large are returns to schooling? Hint: Money isn't everything," NBER Working Papers 15339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Helena Holmlund, 2008. "A Researchers Guide to the Swedish Compulsory School Reform," CEE Discussion Papers 0087, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  6. Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Relationship Between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 189-221.
  7. Paolo Buonanno & Leone Leonida, 2005. "Education and crime: evidence from Italian regions," Working Papers (-2012) 0503, University of Bergamo, Department of Economics.
  8. Lance Lochner, 2010. "Education Policy and Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, pages 465-515 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Grönqvist, Hans, 2011. "Youth Unemployment and Crime: New Lessons Exploring Longitudinal Register Data," Working Paper Series 7/2011, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  10. Randi Hjalmarsson & Matthew J. Lindquist, 2012. "Like Godfather, Like Son: Exploring the Intergenerational Nature of Crime," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(2), pages 550-582.
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