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May 19, 2010

Education and crime

One of the longstanding recommendations for reducing the likelihood that an individual will engage in crime is to make sure that person receives a good education. Is there a relationship between education and crime? And if so why?

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"There is. Studies -- many studies -- have shown that there is what we call an inverse relationship between education and crime. That is, the more education a person has, the less likelihood they will engage in crime.

"And two reasons are given for this and really have been found in the literature: One is economic. That is to say that if you have more education, on average that is going to lead to a better job, higher wages. And so there is less economic incentive to engage in crime where engaging in that crime might be to get money to get property. If you are earning a good living, and you have a good job and good pay, there is no reason to do that.

"The other reason comes from the social side, which says that more education may teach individuals to better relate to others. Also to be more patient; that is, to be willing to put off buying something until tomorrow. And these are characteristics that have been found to deter someone from crime.

"So I guess the bottom line here is when we look at spending on education, when we look at spending on schools, we should view that in part as also fighting crime."

Posted by deeshore at May 19, 2010 08:03 AM

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