We estimate the contemporaneous effect of education on adolescent crime by exploiting the variation in crime rates between different cohorts and at different ages that followed a reform that raised the school-leaving age in Italy.
A 1 percentage-point increase of the enrollment rate reduces adolescent crime by 1.3 per cent in the North of Italy but increases it by 3.9 per cent in the South.
The crime-reducing effect depends mainly on incapacitation (i.e. adolescents stay in school instead of on the street); the crime-increasing effect is consistent with a channel of criminal capital accumulation, operating through social interactions and organized-crime networks.
Forthcoming in: CESifo Economic Studies