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

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hjalmarsson, Randi & Holmlund, Helena & Lindquist, Matthew, 2011. "The Effect of Education on Criminal Convictions and Incarceration: Causal Evidence from Micro-data," CEPR Discussion Papers 8646, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8646
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paolo Buonanno & Leone Leonida, 2006. "Education and crime: evidence from Italian regions," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(11), pages 709-713.
    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, May.
    3. Holmlund, Helena, 2007. "A Researcher's Guide to the Swedish Compulsory School Reform," Working Paper Series 9/2007, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    4. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Rouse & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Estimating Returns to Schooling When Schooling is Misreported," Working Papers 798, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Lance Lochner, 2010. "Education Policy and Crime," NBER Chapters,in: Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, pages 465-515 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Grönqvist, Hans, 2011. "Youth Unemployment and Crime: New Lessons Exploring Longitudinal Register Data," Working Paper Series 7/2011, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    9. 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.
    10. Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2008. "Criminal justice involvement and high school completion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 613-630, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime; education; school reform;

    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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