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The Impact of Lengthening the School Day on Substance Abuse and Crime: Evidence from a German High School Reform

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  • Franz Westermaier

Abstract

In the 2000s, a major educational reform in Germany reduced the academic high school duration by one year while keeping constant the total number of instructional hours before graduation. The instructional hours from the eliminated school year shifted to lower grade levels, which increased the time younger students spend at school. This study explores the impact of the reform on youth crime rates and substance abuse using administrative police crime statistics, administrative student enrollment data, and a student drug survey. The staggered implementation of the reform in different Länder-age-groups allows for a difference-in-difference approach. I find that the reform resulted in a decline in crime rates, which is almost exclusively driven by a reduction in violent crime and illegal substance abuse. Regarding the latter, the rate of illegal cannabis consumption strongly declined; however, no significant effect is detected on cannabis dealers or the consumption of other illegal drugs. The survey evidence further suggests that decreased cannabis consumption was not driven by a shift of consumption into `school hours'. The results point to an `incapacitation' effect of schooling due to the increased instructional hours at lower grade levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Franz Westermaier, 2016. "The Impact of Lengthening the School Day on Substance Abuse and Crime: Evidence from a German High School Reform," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1616, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1616
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Berthelon, Matias E. & Kruger, Diana I., 2011. "Risky behavior among youth: Incapacitation effects of school on adolescent motherhood and crime in Chile," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1-2), pages 41-53, February.
    2. Åslund, Olof & Grönqvist, Hans & Hall, Caroline & Vlachos, Jonas, 2018. "Education and criminal behavior: Insights from an expansion of upper secondary school," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 178-192.
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    6. Büttner Bettina & Thomsen Stephan L., 2015. "Are We Spending Too Many Years in School? Causal Evidence of the Impact of Shortening Secondary School Duration," German Economic Review, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 65-86, February.
    7. Meyer Tobias & Schneider Heidrun & Thomsen Stephan L., 2019. "New Evidence on the Effects of the Shortened School Duration in the German States: An Evaluation of Post-secondary Education Decisions," German Economic Review, De Gruyter, vol. 20(4), pages 201-253, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Quis, Johanna Sophie & Reif, Simon, 2017. "Health effects of instruction intensity: Evidence from a natural experiment in German high-schools," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 12/2017, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    2. Hofmann, Sarah & Mühlenweg, Andrea, 2018. "Learning intensity effects in students’ mental and physical health – Evidence from a large scale natural experiment in Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 216-234.
    3. Quis, Johanna Sophie & Mehl, Simon, 2018. "Health Effects of Instruction Intensity: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in German High-Schools," VfS Annual Conference 2018 (Freiburg, Breisgau): Digital Economy 181619, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    illegal substance abuse; school reform; difference-in-difference;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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