Postprint version. Published in Applied Economics, Volume 31, Issue 2, February 1, 1999, pages 255-266.
As state and local governments have devoted a rising share of their resources to crime-related programmes, concerns have arisen that spending on other programmes such as education will fall. Coupled with growing public concerns over performance of the public education system, and expectations that prison populations will rise as states pass and enforce more stringent sentencing laws, it is not surprising that some view the expansion of crime-related programmes as troublesome. One hypothesis is that education and crime-related programmes directly compete for government expenditures so that what one programme gains the other must lose as in a fixed-pie situation. A competing hypothesis is that spending on these two public programmes are unrelated and therefore higher crime-related spending may also lead to higher taxes or public debt issuance, or to reduction in spending on programmes other than education. We estimate a three equation model of spending on crime-related programmes, spending on education, and the crime rate from which we directly test whether spending on crime and education influence each other.