Economist: Giving more money to Chicago schools could significantly reduce violence

Chicago’s troubling homicide rate could be significantly reduced through a massive increase in state spending for Chicago schools.

That's just one of the proposals floated Monday by a prominent University of Chicago economist.
With a substantial commitment, he says homicides could be reduced by nearly 60 percent.

“This is not a crazy plan,” said Jens Ludwig.

Already this year, there have been a 187 shootings in Chicago and 34 homicides. Numbers that are better than last year, but far above cities like Los Angeles and New York. A big reason for the difference, Ludwig says, is that Illinois is dead last when it comes to the percentage of education dollars provided by the state to its cities.

The economist says adding $1.7 billion dollars would not only bring Illinois up to the national average, but could substantially reduce gun violence as well.

“Given the social science evidence on the link between high school graduation and gun violence, that would be about a 30 percent decrease in the homicide rates in the city of Chicago for something that has absolutely nothing to do with the city of Chicago policies,” Ludwig said.

Ludwig also told the city club crowd that most killers have a history of domestic violence. Intervention after early incidents of abuse, he said, could prevent later homicides. He also recommends an expanded use of the CPD’s new high-tech control centers, and increased attention to the five-thousand or so high-risk individuals who have been identified as likely to be involved in gun violence. Escalating homicides, he says, drives people from cities and Chicago has paid a price.

“If the homicide trend in Chicago had followed New York's trajectory, over the last 25 years, we'd have something between 6-and-700-thousand additional people living in the city of Chicago today,” he said.

Ludwig says there would have been significant economic benefits to the city to having had those people who left, stay around.