Table of Contents

Reducing Crime Through Environmental Design: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment of Street Lighting in New York City

Aaron Chalfin, University of Pennsylvania - Department of Criminology
Benjamin Hansen, University of Oregon - Department of Economics, NBER, IZA
Jason Lerner, University of Chicago
Lucie Parker, University of Chicago

Estimating the Production Function for Human Capital: Results from a Randomized Control Trial in Colombia

Orazio Attanasio, University College London - Department of Economics, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Sarah Cattan, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
Emla Fitzsimons, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
Costas Meghir, Yale University, Yale University - Cowles Foundation, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), IZA Institute of Labor Economics
Marta Rubio-Codina, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Are Estimates of Early Education Programs Too Pessimistic? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment that Causally Measures Neighbor Effects

John A. List, University of Chicago - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), IZA Institute of Labor Economics
Fatemeh Momeni, University of Chicago
Yves Zenou, Monash University - Department of Economics, Stockholm University, Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IUI), IZA Institute of Labor Economics, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

The Apprenticeship-to-Work Transition: Experimental Evidence from Ghana

Morgan Hardy, New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi
Isaac Mulangu Mbiti, affiliation not provided to SSRN
Jamie Lee Mccasland, affiliation not provided to SSRN
Isabelle Salcher, affiliation not provided to SSRN

Labelled Loans, Credit Constraints and Sanitation Investments

Britta Augsburg, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), UNU-MERIT
Bet Caeyers, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
Sara Giunti, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
Bansi Malde, University of Kent
Susanna Smets, World Bank


RANDOMIZED SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS eJOURNAL

"Reducing Crime Through Environmental Design: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment of Street Lighting in New York City" Fee Download
NBER Working Paper No. w25798

AARON CHALFIN, University of Pennsylvania - Department of Criminology
Email:
BENJAMIN HANSEN, University of Oregon - Department of Economics, NBER, IZA
Email:
JASON LERNER, University of Chicago
LUCIE PARKER, University of Chicago

This paper offers experimental evidence that crime can be successfully reduced by changing the situational environment that potential victims and offenders face. We focus on a ubiquitous but surprisingly understudied feature of the urban landscape – street lighting – and report the first experimental evidence on the effect of street lighting on crime. Through a unique public partnership in New York City, temporary streetlights were randomly allocated to public housing developments from March through August 2016. We find evidence that communities that were assigned more lighting experienced sizable reductions in crime. After accounting for potential spatial spillovers, we find that the provision of street lights led, at a minimum, to a 36 percent reduction in nighttime outdoor index crimes.

Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at www.nber.org.

"Estimating the Production Function for Human Capital: Results from a Randomized Control Trial in Colombia" Free Download
Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 1987R3 (2019)

ORAZIO ATTANASIO, University College London - Department of Economics, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Email:
SARAH CATTAN, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
Email:
EMLA FITZSIMONS, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
Email:
COSTAS MEGHIR, Yale University, Yale University - Cowles Foundation, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), IZA Institute of Labor Economics
Email:
MARTA RUBIO-CODINA, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
Email:

We examine the channels through which a randomized early childhood intervention in Colombia led to signi?cant gains in cognitive and socio-emotional skills among a sample of disadvantaged children aged 12 to 24 months at baseline. We estimate the determinants of parents’ material and time investments in these children and evaluate the impact of the treatment on such investments. We then estimate the production functions for cognitive and socio-emotional skills. The effects of the program can be explained by increases in parental investments, emphasizing the importance of parenting interventions at an early age.

"Are Estimates of Early Education Programs Too Pessimistic? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment that Causally Measures Neighbor Effects" Fee Download
CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13725

JOHN A. LIST, University of Chicago - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), IZA Institute of Labor Economics
Email:
FATEMEH MOMENI, University of Chicago
Email:
YVES ZENOU, Monash University - Department of Economics, Stockholm University, Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IUI), IZA Institute of Labor Economics, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
Email:

We estimate the direct and spillover effects of a large-scale early childhood intervention on the educational attainment of over 2,000 disadvantaged children in the United States. We show that failing to account for spillover effects results in a severe underestimation of the impact. The intervention induced positive direct effects on test scores of children assigned to the treatment groups. We document large spillover effects on both treatment and control children who live near treated children. On average, spillover effects increase a child's non-cognitive (cognitive) scores by about 1.2 (0.6 to 0.7) standard deviations. The spillover effects are localized, decreasing with the spatial distance to treated neighbors. Our evidence suggests the spillover effect on non-cognitive scores are likely to operate through the child's social network. Alternatively, parental investment is an important channel through which cognitive spillover effects operate. We view our results as speaking to several literatures, perhaps most importantly the role of public programs and neighborhoods on human capital formation at an early age.

"The Apprenticeship-to-Work Transition: Experimental Evidence from Ghana" Free Download
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8851

MORGAN HARDY, New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi
Email:
ISAAC MULANGU MBITI, affiliation not provided to SSRN
JAMIE LEE MCCASLAND, affiliation not provided to SSRN
ISABELLE SALCHER, affiliation not provided to SSRN

This paper examines the effects of a government-sponsored apprenticeship training program designed to address high levels of youth unemployment in Ghana. The study exploits randomized access to the program to examine the short-run effects of apprenticeship training on labor market outcomes. The results show that apprenticeships shift youth out of wage work and into self-employment. However, the loss of wage income is not offset by increases in self-employment profits in the short run. In addition, the study uses the randomized match between apprentices and training providers to examine the causal effect of characteristics of trainers on outcomes for apprentices. Participants who trained with the most experienced trainers or the most profitable ones had higher earnings. These increases more than offset the program's negative treatment effect on earnings. This suggests that training programs can be made more effective through better recruitment of trainers.

"Labelled Loans, Credit Constraints and Sanitation Investments" Free Download
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8845

BRITTA AUGSBURG, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), UNU-MERIT
Email:
BET CAEYERS, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
Email:
SARA GIUNTI, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
Email:
BANSI MALDE, University of Kent
Email:
SUSANNA SMETS, World Bank
Email:

Credit constraints are considered to be an important barrier hindering adoption of preventive health investments among low-income households in developing countries. However, it is not obvious whether, and the extent to which, the provision of labelled micro-credit -- where the loan is linked to the investment only through its label -- will boost human capital investments, particularly when it is characterised by other attractive attributes, such as a lower interest rate. This paper studies a cluster randomised controlled trial of a sanitation micro-credit program in rural India, which made available lower interest loans for sanitation. The loans were linked with sanitation through their name only. The loans were not bundled with any toilet, and loan use was weakly monitored, but not enforced. Hence it is not directly obvious that the loan should boost sanitation investments. A simple theoretical framework indicates that the intervention could increase sanitation ownership through three channels -- relaxation of credit constraints, salience of the loan label, or the lower interest rate. The presented empirical evidence, combined with model predictions, allow to conclude that the loan label -- which to date has not received much attention in the literature -- significantly impacts households borrowing and investment behaviour. Labelling loans is thus a viable strategy to improve uptake of lumpy preventive health investments.

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About this eJournal

The randomized social experiment is a distinctive modern form of social research activity. Randomized Social Experiments makes available papers, articles, and research reports concerned with field tests of human behavior in which random assignment has been used for evaluation purposes. Social experiments began in the United States in the late 1960s, and have since been conducted on all the inhabited continents. Random assignment involves neither choice nor discretion. Whereas human subjects may or may not have the right to choose to participate in the experiment, they do not have the right to decide which group within the experiment they will join. Similarly, persons administering the policy intervention may restrict eligibility for participation in the experiment, but once a person is admitted, program staff cannot determine the group in which that subject is enrolled, except by using randomization. If implemented properly, the results of social experiments generally are internally valid, that is, they provide unbiased impact estimates for targeted people subject to different treatments at the particular time and place they were administered. The question of their external validity to larger populations, other places, or time periods will at all times be controversial.

Randomized Social Experiments succeeds the Digest of Social Experiments 3rd ed. (David Greenberg and Mark Shroder Washington D.C., Urban Institute Press, 2004), which contains brief summaries of 240 social experiments completed by April 2003.

Greenberg and Shroder believe that the methods they used to capture research activity in this growing field are no longer sufficient, and have asked SSRN to provide a new mechanism by which the community of scholars can learn about it. Randomized Social Experiments includes, but is not limited to, field studies of social programs in which the behavior of individuals, households, or (in rare instances) firms or organizations is examined subject to a protocol which includes

- Random assignment: Creation of at least two groups of human subjects who differ from one another by chance alone.

- Policy intervention: A set of actions ensuring that different incentives, opportunities, or constraints confront the members of each of the randomly assigned groups in their daily lives.

- Follow-up data collection: Measurement of various outcomes for members of each group.

- Evaluation: Application of statistical inference and informed professional judgment about the degree to which the policy interventions have caused differences in outcomes between the groups.

Randomized Social Experiments will also contain information on certain studies that would be excluded from the above definition because they do not involve social policy interventions, and therefore expands on the Digest. Specifically, we have added randomized studies of social exclusion (e.g., field tests of prevalence of discrimination in the market place) and methods of political mobilization, any type of personnel policy used by employers, and any type of marketing strategies used by either businesses or charities. In all cases, however, studies included will involve the observation of actual, not theoretical, human behavior in the field, not the laboratory.

Although the primary objective of this journal is to produce internally valid impact estimates, Randomized Social Experiments is not limited to only analyses of impacts. Rather, included are any papers, articles, or research reports that utilize data generated by social experiments, including analyses of the implementation and cost-benefits of the tested programs and policies. Also included are more general discussions of and research on social experimentation (e.g., methodological issues, the relative merits of social experiments and non-experimental approaches to estimating impacts, and syntheses of findings from social experiments).

Editors: David H. Greenberg, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Mark D. Shroder, Government of the United States of America

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Advisory Board

Randomized Social Experiments eJournal

JOSHUA ANGRIST
Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), IZA Institute of Labor Economics

ROBERT F. BORUCH
University Trustee Chair Professor, Graduate School of Education and Statistics Department, Wharton School - University of Pennsylvania

GARY T BURTLESS
Senior Fellow in Economic Studies, The John C. and Nancy D. Whitehead Chair, Brookings Institution, Affiliated Researcher, Boston College - Retirement Research Center

ESTHER DUFLO
Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics, Director - Poverty Action Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics, Director, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Board member, Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

DONALD P. GREEN
J.W. Burgess Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

JUDITH M. GUERON
Scholar in Residence and President Emerita, President Emerita, MDRC

ROBINSON HOLLISTER
Joseph Wharton Professor of Economics, Swarthmore College - Economics Department

ROBERT J. LALONDE
Professor of Public Policy, University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), IZA Institute of Labor Economics

JOHN A. LIST
Professor, University of Chicago - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), IZA Institute of Labor Economics

REBECCA MAYNARD
University Trustee Chair Professor of Education and Social Policy, University of Pennsylvania

ROBERT MOFFITT
Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Economics and Chief Editor American Economic Review, Johns Hopkins University - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

LARRY L. ORR
Associate, Johns Hopkins University, Consultant, Independent Consultant

JEFFREY ANDREW SMITH
Paul T. Heyne Distinguished Chair in Economics, University of Wisconsin - Madison, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

ROBERT WALKER
Professor of Social Policy, Fellow of Green College, University of Oxford