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The crime reducing effect of education

  • Stephen Machin
  • Olivier Marie
  • Sunčica Vujić

In this paper, we present evidence on empirical connections between crime and education, using various data sources from Britain. A robust finding is that criminal activity is negatively associated with higher levels of education. However, it is essential to ensure that the direction of causation flows from education to crime. Therefore, we identify the effect of education on participation in criminal activity using changes in compulsory school leaving age laws over time to account for the endogeneity of education. In this causal approach, for property crimes, the negative crime-education relationship remains strong and significant. The implications of these findings are unambiguous and clear. They show that improving education can yield significant social benefits and can be a key policy tool in the drive to reduce crime.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28727/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 28727.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:28727
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  1. Stephen Machin & Olivier Marie & Suncica Vujic, 2010. "The Crime Reducing Effect of Education," CEP Discussion Papers dp0979, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Gibbons, Stephen & Machin, Stephen & Silva, Olmo, 2013. "Valuing school quality using boundary discontinuities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 15-28.
  3. Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2004. "Crime and Economic Incentives," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
  4. Stephen Gibbons & Stephen Machin & Olmo Silva, 2012. "Valuing School Quality Using Boundary Discontinuities," CEE Discussion Papers 0132, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  5. Lindeboom, Maarten & Llena-Nozal, Ana & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2009. "Parental education and child health: Evidence from a schooling reform," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 109-131, January.
  6. Machin, Steve & Marie, Olivier, 2005. "Crime and Police Resources: The Street Crime Initiative," CEPR Discussion Papers 5390, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Grogger, Jeff, 1998. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-91, October.
  8. Colm Harmon & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of the economic return to schooling for the United Kingdom," Open Access publications 10197/647, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  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. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Do dropouts drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2213-2229, December.
  11. Arnaud Chevalier & Colm Harmon & Vincent O’ Sullivan & Ian Walker, 2013. "The impact of parental income and education on the schooling of their children," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-22, December.
  12. Tauchen, Helen & Witte, Ann Dryden & Griesinger, Harriet, 1994. "Criminal Deterrence: Revisiting the Issue with a Birth Cohort," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 399-412, August.
  13. Isaac Ehrlich, 1975. "On the Relation between Education and Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Education, Income, and Human Behavior, pages 313-338 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Ricardo Sabates & Leon Feinstein, 2008. "Effects of government initiatives on youth crime," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 462-483, July.
  15. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
  16. Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 2007. "The Impact of Parental Income and Education on Child Health : Further Evidence for England," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 788, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  17. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental education and child’s education : a natural experiment," Working Papers 200414, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  18. Philip Oreopoulos, 2006. "Estimating Average and Local Average Treatment Effects of Education when Compulsory Schooling Laws Really Matter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 152-175, March.
  19. Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2008. "Criminal justice involvement and high school completion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 613-630, March.
  20. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  21. Steven D. Levitt & Lance Lochner, 2001. "The Determinants of Juvenile Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 327-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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