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The Effect of Education on Criminal Convictions and Incarceration: Causal Evidence from Micro-data

Journal article
Authors Randi Hjalmarsson
Matthew Lindquist
Helena Holmlund
Published in The Economic Journal
Volume 125
Issue 587
Pages 1290-1326
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 1290-1326
Language en
Keywords education, crime, prison, school reform
Subject categories Economics, Law


This article studies the causal effect of educational attainment on conviction and incarceration using Sweden's compulsory schooling reform as an instrument for years of schooling and a 70% sample from Sweden's Multigenerational Register matched with more than 30 years of administrative crime records. We find a significant negative effect of schooling on male convictions and incarceration; one additional year of schooling decreases the likelihood of conviction by 6.7% and incarceration by 15.5%. Though OLS estimates for females are of a similar magnitude to those for males, we find no evidence of a significant causal effect for women.

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