Aggressive Policing and the Educational Performance of Minority Youth

American Sociological Review, Forthcoming

58 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2018 Last revised: 9 Jan 2019

See all articles by Joscha Legewie

Joscha Legewie

Harvard University - Department of Sociology

Jeffrey Fagan

Columbia Law School

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

An increasing number of minority youth are confronted with the criminal justice system. But how does the expansion of police presence in poor urban communities affect educational outcomes? Previous research points at multiple mechanisms with opposing effects. This article presents the first causal evidence of the impact of aggressive policing on the educational performance of minority youth. Under Operation Impact, the New York Police Department (NYPD) saturated high crime areas with additional police officers with the mission to engage in aggressive, order maintenance policing. To estimate the effect, we use administrative data from about 250,000 adolescents aged 9 to 15 and a Difference-in-Difference approach based on variation in the timing of police surges across neighborhoods. We find that exposure to police surges significantly reduced test scores for African-American boys, consistent with their greater exposure to policing. The size of the effect increases with age but there is no discernible effect for African-American girls and Hispanic students. Aggressive policing can thus lower the educational performance of African-American youth. These findings provide evidence that the consequences of policing extend into key domains of social life, with implications for the educational trajectories of minority youth and social inequality more broadly.

Keywords: criminal law, criminal justice, policing, minority youth, aggressive policing, education

Suggested Citation

Legewie, Joscha and Fagan, Jeffrey, Aggressive Policing and the Educational Performance of Minority Youth (2019). American Sociological Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3251940

Joscha Legewie

Harvard University - Department of Sociology ( email )

33 Kirkland Street
William James Hall, Sixth Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jeffrey Fagan (Contact Author)

Columbia Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-2624 (Phone)
212-854-7946 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.columbia.edu/fac/Jeffrey_Fagan

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