VoxEU Column

Public school funding, school quality, and adult crime

Policymakers often propose better funding for public schools as an early intervention to reduce adult crime, yet little causal evidence of its effectiveness exists. This column uses novel data on over one million students in Michigan to study this relationship, finding that greater school funding has a large causal effect on the likelihood of adult arrest. This is most likely driven by the positive effects of greater school funding on school quality, including better paid and more experienced teachers, and is not due to peer effects. The increase in school funding pays for itself, creating social benefits that exceed the cost.