That’s according to this study from David J. Deming of Harvard. (Thanks to Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek and Andrew Coulson at Cato for the pointer).
I’m always skeptical of statistical studies, even those that confirm my biases. Reading over the design of the study, my main concern is that there is a selection bias.
That means the kids who attended the school of their choice are likely to be the ones who care more about education and their future anyway. So, it’s not necessarily the school choice that caused the lower crime, rather the school choice process just weeded out the kids who are less likely to commit crimes anyway.
After reading over the study design, I think that is possibly the case here. My main beef here is that parents could request up to three schools, not including their neighborhood school. I think what is important here is how many schools the parents requested.
But, even so, I’m not going to nitpick too much. Even if there is selection bias in the study, I think it is safe to conclude that giving students and parents a choice, worst case, doesn’t cause more crime.