Trauma at School: The Impacts of Shootings on Students' Human Capital and Economic Outcomes
A growing number of American children are exposed to gun violence at their schools, but little is known about the impacts of this exposure on their human capital attainment and economic well-being. This paper studies the causal effects of exposure to shootings at schools on children’s educational and economic outcomes, using individual-level longitudinal administrative data from Texas. We analyze the universe of shootings at Texas public schools that occurred between 1995 and 2016, and match schools that experienced shootings with observationally similar control schools in other districts. We use difference-in-differences models that leverage within-individual and across-cohort variation in shooting exposure within matched school groups to estimate the short- and long-run impacts of shootings on students attending these schools at the time of the shooting. We find that shooting-exposed students have an increased absence rate and are more likely to be chronically absent and repeat a grade in the two years following the event. We also find adverse long-term impacts on the likelihood of high school graduation, college enrollment and graduation, as well as employment and earnings at ages 24-26. Heterogeneity analyses by student and school characteristics indicate that the detrimental impacts of shootings are universal, with most sub-groups being affected.
We thank Sandy Black, Victor Carrion, David Figlio, Kirabo Jackson, Phillip Levine, Robin McKnight, Rich Murphy, David Studdert, and seminar participants at the University of Munich ifo Center for the Economics of Education for helpful comments. Research reported in this article was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01HD102378. The research presented here utilizes confidential data from Texas Education Research Center (TERC) at The University of Texas at Austin. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to TERC or any of the funders or supporting organizations mentioned herein. Any errors are attributable to the authors alone. The conclusions of this research do not reflect the opinion or official position of the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Workforce Commission, the State of Texas, or the National Bureau of Economic Research.