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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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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.546486.de/dp1616.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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), pages 41-53.
    2. repec:zbw:espost:162940 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Bettina Büttner & Stephan L. Thomsen, 2015. "Are We Spending Too Many Years in School? Causal Evidence of the Impact of Shortening Secondary School Duration," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 16(1), pages 65-86, February.
    4. D. Mark Anderson & Mary Beth Walker, 2015. "Does Shortening the School Week Impact Student Performance? Evidence from the Four-Day School Week," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 10(3), pages 314-349, July.
    5. A. Colin Cameron & Douglas L. Miller, 2015. "A Practitioner’s Guide to Cluster-Robust Inference," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 317-372.
    6. 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.
    7. Huebener, Mathias & Marcus, Jan, 2017. "Compressing instruction time into fewer years of schooling and the impact on student performance," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 1-14.
    8. Ylenia Brilli & Marco Tonello, 2015. "Rethinking the crime reducing effect of education? Mechanisms and evidence from regional divides," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1008, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    9. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2003. "Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration, and Juvenile Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1560-1577, December.
    10. D. Mark Anderson, 2014. "In School and Out of Trouble? The Minimum Dropout Age and Juvenile Crime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 318-331, May.
    11. 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.
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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," BERG Working Paper Series 123, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    2. Hofmann, Sarah & Mühlenweg, Andrea, 2017. "Learning Intensity Effects in Students' Mental and Physical Health - Evidence from a Large Scale Natural Experiment in Germany," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-622, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    illegal substance abuse; school reform; difference-in-difference;

    JEL classification:

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

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