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Reducing Crime and Violence: Experimental Evidence from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Liberia

119 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2015 Last revised: 25 Oct 2016

Christopher Blattman

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Julian C. Jamison

World Bank eMBeD (Mind, Behavior, and Development); Innovations for Poverty Action; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - Research Department

Margaret Sheridan

Harvard Medical School/Boston Children's Hospital; University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 18, 2016

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.

Keywords: noncognitive skills, crime, violence, poverty, cash transfers, field experiment, Liberia, rehabilitation, self control, social identity

JEL Classification: O12, J22, K42, D03

Suggested Citation

Blattman, Christopher and Jamison, Julian C. and Sheridan, Margaret, Reducing Crime and Violence: Experimental Evidence from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Liberia (October 18, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2594868 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2594868

Christopher Blattman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Julian Jamison

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - Research Department ( email )

United States

World Bank eMBeD (Mind, Behavior, and Development) ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-817-4942 (Phone)

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 20009
United States

Margaret Sheridan

Harvard Medical School/Boston Children's Hospital ( email )

250 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Psychology and Neuroscience ( email )

Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

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