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Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University
The Campaign for Educational Equity OLD
The Campaign for Educational Equity OLD
Fall 2005 Symposium on the “Social Costs of Inadequate Education”
Fall 2005 Symposium on the “Social Costs of Inadequate Education”

For more information call:

October 24th and 25th at  Alfred Lerner Hall, Columbia University

Does Education Reduce Participation in Criminal Activities?



Increased educational achievement in young men reduces the probability that they will engage in criminal activity, and thereby decreases crime-related costs incurred by individuals and society.

  • Increasing the high school completion rate by just 1 percent for all men ages 20-60 would save the U.S. up to $1.4 billion per year in reduced costs from crime.
  • A one-year increase in average years of schooling reduces murder and assault by almost 30%, motor vehicle theft by 20%, arson by 13% and burglary and larceny by about 6%.
  • Extrapolating from current high school graduation rates and arrest rates, a 10% increase in graduation rates would potentially reduce murder and assault arrest rates by about 20%, motor vehicle theft by about 13% and arson by 8%.
  • Had high school graduation rates in 1990 been 1% higher, an estimated 400 fewer murders and 8,000 fewer assaults would have taken place. Nearly 100,000 fewer crimes would have taken place overall.
  • The current difference in the education levels of white and black men accounts for 23% of the higher incarceration rates for black men.
  • The direct costs of one year of high school were about $6,000 per student in 1990. Society has since lost between $1,170-$2,100 per year in costs of crime for each male non-graduate from that year.

Linking additional education to reduced crime has tremendous policy implications.

One study finds that each additional police officer placed in large U.S. cities costs $80,000 and saves $200,000 in annual crime costs. An additional 100 high school students would have to graduate to generating equivalent crime-related savings, at a one-time cost of $600,000. However, those additional 100 students would also generate an additional $800,000 per year in human capital and annual productivity.