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Youth Crime and Education Expansion

  • Machin, Stephen


    (University College London)

  • Marie, Olivier


    (Maastricht University)

  • Vujić, Sunčica


    (University of Antwerp)

We present new evidence on the causal impact of education on crime, by considering a large expansion of the UK post-compulsory education system that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The education expansion raised education levels across the whole education distribution and, in particular for our analysis, at the bottom end enabling us to develop an instrumental variable strategy to study the crime-education relationship. At the same time as the education expansion, youth crime fell, revealing a significant cross-cohort relationship between crime and education. The causal crime reducing effect of education is estimated to be negative and significant, and considerably bigger in (absolute) magnitude than ordinary least squares estimates. The education boost also significantly impacted other productivity related economic variables (qualification attainment and wages), demonstrating that the incapacitation effect of additional time spent in school is not the sole driver of the results.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6582.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: German Economic Review (Special Issue on Economics of Crime), 2012, 13, 366-84
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6582
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  1. Machin Stephen & Marie Olivier & Vujić Sunčica, 2010. "The Crime Reducing Effect of Education," ROA Research Memorandum 013, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  2. 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.
  3. Jo Blanden & Stephen Machin, 2004. "Educational inequality and the expansion of UK higher education," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 17497, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. 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.
  5. Paul J. Devereux & Robert A. Hart, 2009. "Forced to be Rich? Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Britain," Working Papers 200940, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  6. Lance Lochner, 2004. "Education, Work, and Crime: A Human Capital Approach," NBER Working Papers 10478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Naci H. Mocan & Bulent Unel, 2011. "Skill-biased Technological Change, Earnings of Unskilled Workers, and Crime," NBER Working Papers 17605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2004. "Crime and Economic Incentives," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
  13. Devereux, Paul J. & Fan, Wen, 2011. "Earnings returns to the British education expansion," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1153-1166.
  14. Lance Lochner, 2010. "Non-Production Benefits of Education: Crime, Health and Good Citizenship," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20107, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  15. Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2008. "Criminal justice involvement and high school completion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 613-630, March.
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