Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2014:14: Does Eligibility for Tertiary Education Affect Crime Rates? Quasi-Experimental Evidence

Martin Nordin ()
Additional contact information
Martin Nordin: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: This paper estimates a tertiary eligibility effect on crime for Sweden. The idea is that investment in higher education is a way of escaping youth inactivity and idleness, and, since youth inactivity is known to trigger crime, the self-incapacitation effect of higher education decreases crime rates. However, to invest in higher education, the individual has to meet the tertiary eligibility requirements in upper-secondary school. Tertiary eligibility may therefore affect crime rates. Evidence of an exogenous grade inflation in the eligibility rate is used to identify the tertiary eligibility effect. With the introduction of a goal-related grading system, the share with tertiary eligibility increased by more than 6 percentage points. Accordingly, during the period with grade inflation in the eligibility rate, crime rates fell, but, when the period of grade inflation was ended, the effect of tertiary eligibility on crime disappeared as well. Hence, when youth have the opportunity to invest in higher education, and thus escape unemployment or inactivity, their propensity to commit crime decreases.

Keywords: crime; education; tertiary eligibility

JEL-codes: J20; K14; K42

33 pages, April 29, 2014

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