Do Schools Cause Crime in Neighborhoods? Quasi-experimental Evidence from the Growth of Charter Schools in Philadelphia

WP 2015-11.0

John M. MacDonald

This paper examines the impact of schools on crime in urban neighborhoods. The change in the public educational landscape with the rise of charter schools in Philadelphia provides a natural experiment to examine the effects that school locations have on crime rates. In this paper, we use data on the location and opening of charter and public schools to estimate the effect that school openings had on neighborhood crime patterns between 1998 and 2010. We estimate the change in crime counts in areas surrounding schools before and after their opening compared to areas where schools are always open. We find that crime in general goes down when schools open. The findings suggest that school locations play a minimal role in neighborhood crime production in Philadelphia.

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