Why Does Education Reduce Crime?

64 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018

See all articles by Brian Bell

Brian Bell

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Rui Costa

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)

Stephen J. Machin

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP); London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2018

Abstract

Prior research shows reduced criminality to be a beneficial consequence of education policies that raise the school leaving age. This paper studies how crime reductions occurred in a sequence of state-level dropout age reforms enacted between 1980 and 2010 in the United States. These reforms changed the shape of crime-age profiles, reflecting both a temporary incapacitation effect and a more sustained, longer run crime reducing effect. In contrast to the previous research looking at earlier US education reforms, crime reduction does not arise solely as a result of education improvements, and so the observed longer run effect is interpreted as dynamic incapacitation. Additional evidence based on longitudinal data combined with an education reform from a different setting in Australia corroborates the finding of dynamic incapacitation underpinning education policy-induced crime reduction.

Keywords: Crime age profiles; School dropout; Compulsory schooling laws.

JEL Classification: I2, K42

Suggested Citation

Bell, Brian and Costa, Rui and Machin, Stephen J., Why Does Education Reduce Crime? (September 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13162, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3247234

Brian Bell (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Rui Costa

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Stephen J. Machin

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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