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The Effect of Education Policy on Crime: An Intergenerational Perspective

The Swedish comprehensive school reform implied an extension of the number of years of compulsory school from 7 or 8 to 9 for the entire nation and was implemented as a social experiment by municipality between 1949 and 1962. A previous study (Meghir and Palme, 2005) has shown that this reform significantly increased the number of years of schooling as well as labor earnings of the children who went through the post reform school system, in particular for individuals originating from homes with low educated fathers. This study estimates the impact of the reform on criminal behavior: both within the generation directly affected by the reform as well as their children. We use census data on all born in Sweden between 1945 and 1955 and all their children merged with individual register data on all convictions between 1981 and 2008. We find that the educational reform decreased crime substantially for men who were directly affected by it. We also find that the crime rate declined for the sons of those fathers directly affected by the new educational system; we interpret this results as implying that improved education increased resource and parenting quality, leading to improved child outcomes.

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Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2011:23.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: 19 May 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2011_0023
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 16 20 00
Fax: +46 8 16 14 25
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  1. Anders Björklund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2006. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(3), pages 999-1028, 08.
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  3. Giulio Fella & Giovanni Gallipoli, 2014. "Education and Crime over the Life Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(4), pages 1484-1517.
  4. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  5. Hjalmarsson, Randi & Lindquist, Matthew J., 2011. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations in Crime: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," Working Paper Series 11/2011, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  6. Claudia Goldin, 1999. "Egalitarianism and the Returns to Education during the Great Transformation of American Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S65-S94, December.
  7. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Susanne M. Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 883-931, 05.
  8. Machin, Stephen & Marie, Olivier & Vujić, Sunčica, 2010. "The Crime Reducing Effect of Education," IZA Discussion Papers 5000, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Jenny Williams & Robin C. Sickles, 2002. "An Analysis of the Crime as Work Model: Evidence from the 1958 Philadelphia Birth Cohort Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(3), pages 479-509.
  10. Lance Lochner, 2004. "Education, Work, And Crime: A Human Capital Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 811-843, 08.
  11. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 1999. "Legalized Abortion and Crime," JCPR Working Papers 104, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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  14. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  15. Hunt, Jennifer, 2006. "Do Teen Births Keep American Crime High?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 533-66, October.
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  18. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do about It?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 25-42, Winter.
  19. 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.
  20. David J. Deming, 2011. "Better Schools, Less Crime?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 2063-2115.
  21. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
  22. 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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  24. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2001. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," NBER Working Papers 8605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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