Compulsory Schooling Laws and School Crime: Are Delinquents Incapacitated?
36 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2012 Last revised: 10 Jan 2013
Date Written: January 9, 2013
Minimum dropout age (MDA) laws have been touted as effective policies to bring dropouts off streets and into classrooms. One question to better understand the costs and benefits of these laws is: to what extent do MDA laws displace crime from streets to schools? This research expands the compulsory schooling literature and extends the sparse research on in-school crime by studying how MDA laws affect crimes committed in U.S. public high schools. The analysis is conducted using a difference-in-difference estimator exploiting variation in state-level MDA laws over time. The results indicate that an increase in the MDA to 18 significantly increases in-school crime by 0.434 incidences per 1,000 students or a 6.2% increase. Analyzing specific crime types, the results find that attacks without a weapon, threats without a weapon, and illegal drug incidences increase by 0.627, 0.588 and 0.437 incidences (or 12.2%, 36.3%, and 43.4% increase), respectively. An increase in the MDA to 17 is found to have no effect on in-school crime. The results are robust across different socioeconomic student bodies and control groups. Lastly, we find that in-school crime prevention resources do not increase with an increase in the MDA, but that utilization rates of suspensions and expulsions change in the direction of fortifying state policymakers efforts to keep juveniles in schools.
Keywords: Compulsory Schooling Laws, Minimum Dropout Ages, In-School Crime, Crime, Juvenile Crime, Delinquents, Education, Difference-in-Difference
JEL Classification: I21, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation