Crime impacts the lives of Kentuckians in myriad ways. It has direct costs to victims and indirect costs through property values and business activity. Citizens and policymakers alike desire to reduce and limit crime. In this brief, we investigate the link between crime rates in Kentucky’s counties and the aggregate level of education. Perhaps surprisingly, higher education, and specifically the percent of the population with a Bachelor’s degree, is associated with lower crime. We find that increasing educational attainment in Kentucky to the U.S. levels could reduce the costs of crime by over $3 million annually.

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This research was funded by the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to study the relationship between education and outcomes such as income, employment levels, health, public assistance use, and crime.