Compulsory schooling laws and in-school crime : are delinquents incapacitated?
Pennig, Luke Alouisious
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Minimum dropout age (MDA) laws have been touted as effective policies to bring delinquents off streets and into classrooms. These laws work mainly through incapacitating delinquents by decreasing the number of unsupervised hours available to commit crime. Given that these laws constrain delinquent juveniles, one question to better understand the costs and benefits of these laws is: to what extent do MDA laws displace crime from streets to schools? Answering this question may be valuable given that in-school crime affects education production through creating a negative and unsafe learning environment, which may lead to decreases in student achievement. This research extends the sparse research on in-school crime by studying how MDA laws affect crimes committed in U.S. public high schools. The analysis is conducted using a difference-in-difference estimator exploiting variation between state-level MDA laws over time. The results indicate that a MDA of 18 significantly increases in-school crime. Specifically, attacks without a weapon, threats without a weapon, and drug incidences. A MDA of 17 is found to have no effect on in-school crime.