NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Jonathan M.V. Davis

University of Chicago
Saieh Hall for Economics
1160 E 58th St
Chicago, IL 60637
Tel: 513-478-4109

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

October 2017The Economics of Scale-Up
with Jonathan Guryan, Kelly Hallberg, Jens Ludwig: w23925
Most randomized controlled trials (RCT) of social programs test interventions at modest scale. While the hope is that promising programs will be scaled up, we have few successful examples of this scale-up process in practice. Ideally we would like to know which programs will work at large scale before we invest the resources to take them to scale. But it would seem that the only way to tell whether a program works at scale is to test it at scale. Our goal in this paper is to propose a way out of this Catch-22. We first develop a simple model that helps clarify the type of scale-up challenge for which our method is most relevant. Most social programs rely on labor as a key input (teachers, nurses, social workers, etc.). We know people vary greatly in their skill at these jobs. So social pro...
May 2017Rethinking the Benefits of Youth Employment Programs: The Heterogeneous Effects of Summer Jobs
with Sara B. Heller: w23443
This paper reports the results of two randomized field experiments, each offering different populations of youth a supported summer job in Chicago. In both experiments, the program dramatically reduces violent-crime arrests, even after the summer. It does so without improving employment, schooling, or other types of crime; if anything, property crime increases over 2-3 post-program years. To explore mechanisms, we implement a machine learning method that predicts treatment heterogeneity using observables. The method identifies a subgroup of youth with positive employment impacts, whose characteristics differ from the disconnected youth served in most employment programs. We find that employment benefiters commit more property crime than their control counterparts, and non-benefiters also s...
 
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