The Long Run Effects of a Program Aimed At Reducing Crime and Violence: Experimental Evidence from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Liberia

Last registered on November 25, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The Long Run Effects of a Program Aimed At Reducing Crime and Violence: Experimental Evidence from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Liberia
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006736
Initial registration date
November 18, 2020
Last updated
November 25, 2020, 12:30 PM EST

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Innovations for Poverty Action

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Exeter
PI Affiliation
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Clinical Psychology
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2020-11-19
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In 2009-2012, Blattman, Jamison, and Sheridan, worked with the Liberian NGO Network for Empowerment & Progressive Initiative (NEPI) and the research non-profit Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) to study the impact of a short, inexpensive, intensive therapy program informed by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on young men’s violent and criminal behavior. 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 (Blattman et al., 2017). Based on these promising findings, as well as those of a similar program in Chicago (Heller et al., 2016), CBT interventions have been replicated around the globe in efforts to reduce violence and criminal behavior. There is no long term evidence on these programs, however. This pre-registration is for a ten-year follow-up in order to track long-term effects of the CBT and the cash interventions in Liberia.

Blattman, C., Jamison, J. C., & Sheridan, M. (2017). Reducing crime and violence: Experimental evidence from cognitive behavioral therapy in Liberia. American Economic Review, 107(4), 1165-1206.

Heller, S. B., Shah, A. K., Guryan, J., Ludwig, J., Mullainathan, S., & Pollack, H. A. (2017). Thinking, fast and slow? Some field experiments to reduce crime and dropout in Chicago. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 132(1), 1-54.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Blattman, Christopher et al. 2020. "The Long Run Effects of a Program Aimed At Reducing Crime and Violence: Experimental Evidence from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Liberia ." AEA RCT Registry. November 25. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6736-1.1
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
We experimentally ran two interventions.

One intervention was participation in an 8-week CBT-informed program called Sustainable Transformation for Youth in Liberia (STYL).

The second was a US$200 grant—about 3 months wages.

The interventions took place a decade ago. This pre-registration pertains to a follow-up survey of participants.

The registration for the original study is here: Blattman, Christopher, Julian Jamison and Margaret Sheridan. 2016. "Reducing Crime and Violence Experimental Evidence on Adult Noncognitive Investments in Liberia." AEA RCT Registry. April 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1205-1.0.

For this follow-up survey, we have marked the trial start date as 11-19-2020 as we expect to start surveys on that day or shortly thereafter. Since the platform requires that the intervention start date and end date take place after the trial start date, we have put down 11-19-2020 as intervention start date and 11-20-2020 as intervention end date in order to bypass the platform. The intervention, though, took place a decade ago, and no intervention will take place as part of this follow-up study.
Intervention Start Date
2020-11-19
Intervention End Date
2020-11-20

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Anti-social behavior
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. Economic performance
2. Time preference
3. Self-control skills
4. Anti-criminal and anti-violent self-image/values
5. Positive self-regard/mental health
6. Substance use
7. Social networks
8. Mortality
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
As described in Blattman et al. (2017), working with the Liberian NGO Network for Empowerment & Progressive Initiative (NEPI), in 2009 we identified the highest-risk men in Liberia's capital, generally aged 18 to 35. Most were engaged in part-time theft and drug dealing, and regularly had violent confrontations with each other, community members, and police. We identified roughly 1,500 men as eligible and invited them to the study, and 999 agreed to participate.

We experimentally ran two interventions using a 2 x 2 factorial design. One intervention was participation in an 8-week CBT-informed program called Sustainable Transformation for Youth in Liberia (STYL) and run by NEPI. The second was a US$200 grant—about 3 months wages. The programs were implemented in three waves: of 100 participants in 2010 and of 398 and 501 participants in 2011. Subjects either received offers of therapy alone, cash, therapy and cash, or neither. To deliver both treatments cost about $530 per participant.

Of those assigned to therapy, nearly all attended at least a day, and two thirds completed the 8-week program. The cash was partly a measurement tool, to see if therapy affected economic decisions, as well as a treatment, in the sense that it could stimulate legal self-employment.

We surveyed the men a few weeks after the interventions, and a year after the therapy and grants. In this new stage of the study, we plan to once again survey the study participants approximately 10 years after they enrolled in the study.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Each participant participated in two public draws: one to determine whether they would be invited to STYL, and the other to determine whether they would de offered a cash grant. To maximize transparency and staff safety, the participants took turns drawing colored chips from a fabric bag. The color of the chip determined treatment status.
Randomization Unit
Individual men
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Study not clustered
Sample size: planned number of observations
Up to 999 men who participated in prior surveys for this same study.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Therapy: 277
Cash: 251
Therapy & cash: 249
Control: 222
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Liberia IRB
IRB Approval Date
2020-11-17
IRB Approval Number
20-04-214
IRB Name
University of Chicago IRB
IRB Approval Date
2020-11-17
IRB Approval Number
IRB19-0961-AM008