Reducing Crime and Violence: Experimental Evidence from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Liberia
50 Pages Posted: 26 May 2015 Last revised: 10 Dec 2021
Date Written: May 2015
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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