Crime and Education

Kirstine Hansen, London School of Economics
Steve Machin, University College London
Robert Witt, University of Surrey

This paper investigates long run shifts in crime and how they are associated with trends in educational attainment in Great Britain and the United States. In both countries we have assembled area-level data (at police force area level in Britain and state level in the US) on crime and education measured at ten year intervals from 1930 to 2000. The crime data comes from official police force data and is matched to decennial Census data on educational attainment (and measures of the demographic structure). We use these data to consider the extent to which improved educational attainment correlates with changing crime patterns over time. The paper implements a number of empirical tests of the hypothesis that crime and education are related by considering the evolution of spatial crime patterns over time and how they link to cross-area differences in educational attainment. The hypothesis that increased investment in education matters for crime is in line with observed shifts in crime and education in both countries.

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Updated 05/20/2006