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Reducing crime and violence: Experimental evidence from cognitive behavioral therapy in Liberia

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  • Christopher Blattman
  • Julian C. Jamison
  • Margaret Sheridan

Abstract

We show that a number of “noncognitive” skills and preferences, including patience and identity, are malleable in adults, and that investments in them reduce crime and violence. We recruited criminally-engaged men and randomized half to eight weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy designed to foster self-regulation, patience, and a noncriminal identity and lifestyle. We also randomized $200 grants. Cash alone and therapy alone initially reduced crime and violence, but effects dissipated over time. When cash followed therapy, crime and violence decreased dramatically for at least a year. We hypothesize that cash reinforced therapy’s impacts by prolonging learning-by-doing, lifestyle changes, and self-investment.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21204
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Laura Chioda, 2017. "Stop the Violence in Latin America," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 25920, January.
    2. Blattman, Christopher & Jamison, Julian & Koroknay-Palicz, Tricia & Rodrigues, Katherine & Sheridan, Margaret, 2016. "Measuring the measurement error: A method to qualitatively validate survey data," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 99-112.
    3. Hoff, Karla & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2016. "Striving for balance in economics: Towards a theory of the social determination of behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PB), pages 25-57.
    4. Ali Hasanain & Saad Gulzar & Arman Rezaee & Yasir Khan, 2015. "Personalities and Public Sector Performance: Evidence from a Health Experiment in Pakistan," Working Papers id:6690, eSocialSciences.
    5. Wendy Cunningham & Pablo Acosta & Noël Muller, 2016. "Minds and Behaviors at Work," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 24659, January.
    6. Ali Hasanain & Saad Gulzar & Arman Rezaee & Yasir Khan, 2015. "Personalities and Public Sector Performance: Evidence from a Health Experiment in Pakistan," Working Papers id:6690, eSocialSciences.
    7. Michael J. Gilligan, 2016. "Employment and rebellion in conflicted and fragile states," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 271-271, June.
    8. 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.
    9. Justino, Patricia, 2016. "Supply and demand restrictions to education in conflict-affected countries: New research and future agendas," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 76-85.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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