Panel Paper: School Entry and Criminal Behavior

Sunday, April 9, 2017 : 12:05 PM
HUB 268 (University of California, Riverside)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Asha Shepard, University of California, Santa Cruz
Parents whose children’s birthdays fall just before the school entry cutoff face the concern that their children will be the youngest in their cohort for their entire education. There is a literature documenting that, among other things, the youngest students in a classroom have lower test scores and are more likely to be held back and to be diagnosed with ADHD. These outcomes are highly correlated with criminal behavior. This paper investigates if being the youngest in a cohort has any impact on an individual’s propensity to commit crime. I use a large set of arrest records over a 20-year period in California to assess if being the youngest in a school cohort increases the likelihood of being arrested at any point between the early teen and young adult years. Overall, I find no persistent effect on arrest rates or any effect on the probability of arrest for serious crimes. However, the youngest students in a cohort are at a slightly higher risk of arrest for certain minor offenses at age 14. This transient result is likely due to the effect of being part of a separate population, as those who begin school younger are more likely to be in their first year of high school at that age.