The effect of degree attainment on arrests: Evidence from a randomized social experiment

Vikesh Amin, Carlos A. Flores, Alfonso Flores-Lagunes, Daniel J. Parisian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We examine the effect of educational attainment on criminal behavior using random assignment into Job Corps (JC)—the United States’ largest education and vocational training program for disadvantaged youth—as a source of exogenous variability in educational attainment. We allow such random assignment to violate the exclusion restriction when used as an instrument by employing nonparametric bounds. The attainment of a degree is estimated to reduce arrest rates by at most 11.8 percentage points (about 32.6%). We also find suggestive evidence that the effects may be larger for males relative to females, and larger for black males relative to white males. Remarkably, our 95% confidence intervals on the causal effect of education on arrests are very similar to those from studies exploiting changes in compulsory schooling laws as an instrumental variable (e.g., Lochner and Moretti, 2004), despite our use of a different source of exogenous variation, methodology, and sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-273
Number of pages15
JournalEconomics of Education Review
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Education and crime
  • Nonparametric bounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Economics and Econometrics


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