NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Christopher Blattman, Julian C. Jamison, Margaret Sheridan

NBER Working Paper No. 21204
Issued in May 2015, Revised in September 2016
NBER Program(s):Development Economics

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21204

Published: Christopher Blattman & Julian C. Jamison & Margaret Sheridan, 2017. "Reducing Crime and Violence: Experimental Evidence from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Liberia," American Economic Review, vol 107(4), pages 1165-1206.

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