Catholic Schools and Broken Windows
55 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2010 Last revised: 16 Feb 2011
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: Suggested Citation