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The Crime Reducing Effect of Education

  • Machin Stephen
  • Marie Olivier
  • Vujić Sunčica


In this paper, we study the crime reducing potential of education, presenting causal statistical estimates based upon a law that changed the compulsory school leaving age in England and Wales. We frame the analysis in a regression-discontinuity setting and uncover significant decreases in property crime from reductions in the proportion of people with no educational qualifications and increases in the age of leaving school that resulted from the change in the law. The findings 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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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR) in its series Research Memorandum with number 061.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unm:umamet:2010061
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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. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Stephen Machin & Olivier Marie, 2005. "Crime and police resources: the street crime initiative," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19902, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2000. "Crime and economic incentives," IFS Working Papers W00/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Stephen Gibbons & Stephen Machin & Olmo Silva, 2012. "Valuing School Quality Using Boundary Discontinuities," CEE Discussion Papers 0132, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  8. 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.
  9. Chevalier, Arnaud & Harmon, Colm P. & O'Sullivan, Vincent & Walker, Ian, 2005. "The Impact of Parental Income and Education on the Schooling of Their Children," IZA Discussion Papers 1496, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Maarten Lindeboom & Ana Llena Nozal & Bas van der Klaauw, 2006. "Parental Education and Child Health: Evidence from a Schooling Reform," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-109/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  11. 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.
  12. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental Education And Child's Education: A Natural Experiment," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 42, Royal Economic Society.
  14. Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2008. "Criminal justice involvement and high school completion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 613-630, March.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 1995. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling for the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1278-86, December.
  20. 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.
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