Catholic Schools and Broken Windows

55 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2010 Last revised: 16 Feb 2011

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 24, 2010


This paper represents the second stage of an effort to test the implications of a dramatic shift in the American educational landscape, namely, the rapid disappearance of Catholic schools from urban neighborhoods. In a previous study, we used data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods to measure how Catholic school closures affected perceived levels of disorder and social cohesion in Chicago neighborhoods. In this paper, we use crime data provided (at the police beat level) by the Chicago Police Department to whether Catholic school closures also increase serious crime. Using a latent growth model, we link Catholic school closures between 1990 and 1996 with elevated levels of serious crime between 1999 and 2005. Although crime declined across the city of Chicago during this time, our latent growth analysis suggests that crime declined faster in police beats with open Catholic schools than in beats where Catholic schools closed. Specifically, beats where there was no prior Catholic school closure experienced (on average) a 25% decline in serious crime; beats where a school closed experienced (on average) a 17% decline in crime. Our study contributes in unique ways to critical legal-policy debates about policing and education policy, for reasons we explore in the paper.

Keywords: crime, policing, broken windows, Catholic schools, education

JEL Classification: I20, K14

Suggested Citation

Garnett, Nicole Stelle and Friedlander Brinig, Margaret, Catholic Schools and Broken Windows (June 24, 2010). 5th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Nicole Stelle Garnett (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States
574-631-3091 (Phone)


Margaret Friedlander Brinig

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
3157 Eck Hall of Law
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States
574-631-2303 (Phone)
574-631=8078 (Fax)

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