A Tale of Two Cities: How Tuition Costs Could Prevent Crime

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Education and Crime

What is it about a city such as Detroit that makes it more susceptible to high crime rates, as opposed to a city such as Ann Arbor? By studying this tale of two cities, one is able to discover the recipe for preventing crime at a grand scale.

In 2015, Detroit was the environment for 295 homicides, as well as 597 rapes. Such incidences are likely the effect of poverty, culture, and a lack of formal education in the community. It is no surprise that Detroit has been dubbed the “Murder City” in the US. However, why is it that in the same state of Michigan just miles away, Ann Arbor contrasts these gruesome Detroit statistics? Ann Arbor was reported in 2014 to have a mere 56 rapes and zero murders. In general, Ann Arbor’s population is more educated, which is the leading tenant for crime prevention.

The first pillar that leads to crime prevention is more education in a community.

In the census for the years of 2011-2015, Ann Arbor was shown to have 96.4% of its population holding high school diplomas, as well as 71.9% holding at least a bachelor’s degree. Conversely, the data in Detroit is more somber. Although 78.3% of Detroit’s population has graduated high school, a staggering 13.5% has completed college.

Why would a more educated community lead to lower crime? A study conducted by Northeastern University, as quoted by the New York Times, provides an explanation: “The new report, in its analysis of 2008 unemployment rates, found that 54 percent of dropouts ages 16 to 24 were jobless, compared with 32 percent for high school graduates of the same age, and 13 percent for those with a college degree.” When one lacks a job, one is more likely to commit crimes.

There is an irrefutable correlation between formal education and the likelihood that one will avoid a life of crime and imprisonment. In short, one tenant of a more peaceful community is ensuring that its population attends university and graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree.

How might a society promote attending and graduating college?

Detroit does not lack institutions of higher learning, such as universities and community colleges. What Detroit does lack is a solid school system to prepare students for university study and the financial means to pay for it.

According to the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education, 23% of high school graduates that choose not to go to college do not have enough money to cover the costs. With a disparity of roughly $10,000 in yearly income likely due to an under-educated community, residents of Ann Arbor have more money to send their children to college than their Detroit neighbors. In order to bridge this gap and prevent crime, one observation is offered by American University economics professor Daniel Lin: “When you subsidize something, it’s cheaper for people to consume. So people consume more of it and demand rises.”

As the demand for college has increased with subsidies in the form of student loans and government grants, tuition has also increased. One solution for lowering tuition costs for students in cities such as Detroit would be to cut government subsidies to force universities to lower their prices.

In conclusion, if tuition costs were lowered for universities they would become more accessible to those with lower income. As more people attended college they would be less likely to commit violent crimes.

  • Rick McGuire is a student at Pima Community College studying Business Administration. While not debating statists on the internet, he writes cinematic music and studies economics.
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