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The School to Prison Pipeline: Long-Run Impacts of School Suspensions on Adult Crime

Author

Listed:
  • Andrew Bacher-Hicks
  • Stephen B. Billings
  • David J. Deming

Abstract

Schools face important policy tradeoffs in monitoring and managing student behavior. Strict discipline policies may stigmatize suspended students and expose them to the criminal justice system at a young age. On the other hand, strict discipline acts as a deterrent and limits harmful spillovers of misbehavior onto other students. This paper estimates the net impact of school discipline on student achievement, educational attainment and adult criminal activity. Using exogenous variation in school assignment caused by a large and sudden boundary change and a supplementary design based on principal switches, we show that schools with higher suspension rates have substantial negative long-run impacts. Students assigned to a school that has a one standard deviation higher suspension rate are 15 to 20 percent more likely to be arrested and incarcerated as adults. We also find negative impacts on educational attainment. The negative impacts of attending a high suspension school are largest for males and minorities.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Bacher-Hicks & Stephen B. Billings & David J. Deming, 2019. "The School to Prison Pipeline: Long-Run Impacts of School Suspensions on Adult Crime," NBER Working Papers 26257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26257
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Stephen B. Billings & Jonah Rockoff, 2014. "School Segregation, Educational Attainment, and Crime: Evidence from the End of Busing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 435-476.
    2. Emily G. Owens, 2017. "Testing the School‐to‐Prison Pipeline," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(1), pages 11-37, January.
    3. David J. Deming, 2011. "Better Schools, Less Crime?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 2063-2115.
    4. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian A Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2006. "The Effect of School Choice on Participants: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1191-1230, September.
    5. Scott E. Carrell & Mark Hoekstra & Elira Kuka, 2018. "The Long-Run Effects of Disruptive Peers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(11), pages 3377-3415, November.
    6. repec:hrv:faseco:30749073 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Scott E. Carrell & Mark L. Hoekstra, 2010. "Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone's Kids," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 211-228, January.
    8. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2014. "Measuring the Impacts of Teachers I: Evaluating Bias in Teacher Value-Added Estimates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2593-2632, September.
    9. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2014. "Measuring the Impacts of Teachers II: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2633-2679, September.
    10. Anna Aizer & Joseph J. Doyle, 2015. "Juvenile Incarceration, Human Capital, and Future Crime: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Judges," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 759-803.
    11. David J. Deming, 2014. "Using School Choice Lotteries to Test Measures of School Effectiveness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 406-411, May.
    12. 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.
    13. repec:hrv:faseco:30749606 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. 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.
    15. Josh Kinsler, 2013. "School Discipline: A Source Or Salve For The Racial Achievement Gap?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 54(1), pages 355-383, February.
    16. Philip J. Cook & Songman Kang, 2016. "Birthdays, Schooling, and Crime: Regression-Discontinuity Analysis of School Performance, Delinquency, Dropout, and Crime Initiation," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 33-57, January.
    17. Will Dobbie & Jacob Goldin & Crystal S. Yang, 2018. "The Effects of Pretrial Detention on Conviction, Future Crime, and Employment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Judges," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(2), pages 201-240, February.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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