NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Sara Heller

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Working Papers

May 2015Thinking, Fast and Slow? Some Field Experiments to Reduce Crime and Dropout in Chicago
with Anuj K. Shah, Jonathan Guryan, Jens Ludwig, Sendhil Mullainathan, Harold A. Pollack: w21178
This paper describes how automatic behavior can drive disparities in youth outcomes like delinquency and dropout. We suggest that people often respond to situations without conscious deliberation. While generally adaptive, these automatic responses are sometimes deployed in situations where they are ill-suited. Although this is equally true for all youths, disadvantaged youths face greater situational variability. This increases the likelihood that automaticity will lead to negative outcomes. This hypothesis suggests that interventions that reduce automaticity can lead to positive outcomes for disadvantaged youths. We test this hypothesis by presenting the results of three large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions carried out on the south and west sides of Chicago th...
May 2013Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout: A Randomized Field Experiment
with Harold A. Pollack, Roseanna Ander, Jens Ludwig: w19014
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 yo...

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