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Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout: A Randomized Field Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Sara Heller
  • Harold A. Pollack
  • Roseanna Ander
  • Jens Ludwig

Abstract

Improving the long-term life outcomes of disadvantaged youth remains a top policy priority in the United States, although identifying successful interventions for adolescents - particularly males - has proven challenging. This paper reports results from a large randomized controlled trial of an intervention for disadvantaged male youth grades 7-10 from high-crime Chicago neighborhoods. The intervention was delivered by two local non-profits and included regular interactions with a pro-social adult, after-school programming, and - perhaps the most novel ingredient - in-school programming designed to reduce common judgment and decision-making problems related to automatic behavior and biased beliefs, or what psychologists call cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We randomly assigned 2,740 youth to programming or to a control group; about half those offered programming participated, with the average participant attending 13 sessions. Program participation reduced violent-crime arrests during the program year by 8.1 per 100 youth (a 44 percent reduction). It also generated sustained gains in schooling outcomes equal to 0.14 standard deviations during the program year and 0.19 standard deviations during the follow-up year, which we estimate could lead to higher graduation rates of 3-10 percentage points (7-22 percent). Depending on how one monetizes the social costs of crime, the benefit-cost ratio may be as high as 30:1 from reductions in criminal activity alone.

Suggested Citation

  • Sara Heller & Harold A. Pollack & Roseanna Ander & Jens Ludwig, 2013. "Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout: A Randomized Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 19014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19014
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:tir:wpaper:50 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Carvalho, Leandro S. & Soares, Rodrigo R., 2016. "Living on the edge: Youth entry, career and exit in drug-selling gangs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 77-98.
    3. Brian Jacob & Max Kapustin & Jens Ludwig, 2014. "Human Capital Effects of Anti-Poverty Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Lottery," NBER Working Papers 20164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Bentaouet Kattan,Raja & Székely,Miguel, 2015. "Analyzing the dynamics of school dropout in upper secondary education in Latin America : a cohort approach," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7223, The World Bank.
    5. Christopher Blattman & Julian C. Jamison & Margaret Sheridan, 2015. "Reducing crime and violence: Experimental evidence from cognitive behavioral therapy in Liberia," NBER Working Papers 21204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Xu, Kun & Guan, Zhihua & Xu, Wenli, 2015. "省级财政支出效率空间溢出效应研究:基于超效率dea和gsm模型
      [Study on Spatial Spillover Effect of Provincial Fiscal Efficiency: Based on Super-Efficient DEA and GSM Model]
      ," MPRA Paper 71132, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Philip J. Cook & Kenneth Dodge & George Farkas & Roland G. Fryer, Jr & Jonathan Guryan & Jens Ludwig & Susan Mayer & Harold Pollack & Laurence Steinberg, 2014. "The (Surprising) Efficacy of Academic and Behavioral Intervention with Disadvantaged Youth: Results from a Randomized Experiment in Chicago," NBER Working Papers 19862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. repec:iza:izawol:journl:y:2017:n:366 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Elizabeth W. Cavadel & Jacqueline F. Kauff & Mary Anne Anderson & Sheena McConnell & Michelle Derr, "undated". "Self-Regulation and Goal Attainment: A New Perspective for Employment Programs," Mathematica Policy Research Reports e49aff23628f45bd847fd2e86, Mathematica Policy Research.
    10. Alison Evans Cuellar & Dhaval M. Dave, 2015. "Causal Effects of Mental Health Treatment on Education Outcomes for Youth in the Justice System," NBER Working Papers 21206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Rud, I & Van Klaveren, C. & Groot, W. and Maassen van den Brink, H., 2013. "Education and Youth Crime: a Review of the Empirical Literature," Working Papers 48, Top Institute for Evidence Based Education Research.
    12. Christopher Blattman & Jeannie Annan, 2015. "Can Employment Reduce Lawlessness and Rebellion? A Field Experiment with High-Risk Men in a Fragile State," NBER Working Papers 21289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Ylenia Brilli & Marco Tonello, 2015. "Rethinking the crime reducing effect of education? Mechanisms and evidence from regional divides," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1008, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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