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Why Does Education Reduce Crime?

Author

Listed:
  • Bell, Brian

    () (King's College London)

  • Costa, Rui

    () (London School of Economics)

  • Machin, Stephen

    () (London School of Economics)

Abstract

Prior research shows reduced criminality to be a beneficial consequence of education policies that raise the school leaving age. This paper studies how crime reductions occurred in a sequence of state-level dropout age reforms enacted between 1980 and 2010 in the United States. These reforms changed the shape of crime-age profiles, reflecting both a temporary incapacitation effect and a more sustained, longer run crime reducing effect. In contrast to the previous research looking at earlier US education reforms, crime reduction does not arise solely as a result of education improvements, and so the observed longer run effect is interpreted as dynamic incapacitation. Additional evidence based on longitudinal data combined with an education reform from a different setting in Australia corroborates the finding of dynamic incapacitation underpinning education policy-induced crime reduction.

Suggested Citation

  • Bell, Brian & Costa, Rui & Machin, Stephen, 2018. "Why Does Education Reduce Crime?," IZA Discussion Papers 11805, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11805
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime age profiles; school dropout; compulsory schooling laws;

    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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