A recent episode of Freakonomics Radio looks at an effort to reduce violence and dropout rates among young men in the Chicago Public Schools using a very inexpensive intervention: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
The episode was inspired by an NBER paper, “Thinking, Fast and Slow? Some Field Experiments to Reduce Crime and Dropout in Chicago.”
In the show, researcher Sara Heller explains how she and others evaluated the impact of a cognitive behavioral therapy program called Becoming a Man. “BAM is not about vocational training or academic support or cash incentives; it doesn’t require a long-term commitment or a lot of money,” it simply helps kids learn how to control their emotions.
The conclusion of Heller et al. is quite startling: it would seem that, for all the billions of dollars spent on complicated anti-crime programs, something as simple and cheap as CBT seems more effective in reducing crime (and, not unrelatedly, keeping teenagers in school).
– Education Next