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The Effects of Summer Jobs on Youth Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2017
30 pages
This study examined the impact on violence among disadvantaged youth of an 8-week summer job at minimum wage; an adult job mentor; and for some youth, a cognitive behavioral therapy-based curriculum.
In 2012, the project randomly assigned 1,634 disadvantaged youth applicants from 13 Chicago public high schools to a program named One Summer Chicago Plus (OSC+) or to a control group. In tracking these youths' behavior through administrative data sources, the study found that the main effect of the program was a dramatic reduction in violence among program participants. In the first year of the program, violent-crime arrests declined by 45 percent (4.5 fewer arrests per 100 participants). The decline did not continue in the second year, however, although the cumulative effect suggests that the program could have a long-term impact on violence. There were no significant changes in the commission of other types of crime. The program-related impact on violence-reduction did not appear to be limited to opportunities or behavioral controls during work hours, since the decline in violence occurred mostly after the end of the program. One suggested but unsubstantiated factor in violence-reduction may be an improvement in how youth handle or avoid conflict. Although more research is needed in determining why the program had an impact on youth violence, these findings suggest that such summer job programs for disadvantaged youth can be cost-effective. This is an important finding, since most empirical evidence to date suggests that changing youths' behavior with summer jobs programs is difficult and costly. 6 tables, 1 figure, 58 references, and appended main results with alternative functional forms and benefit-cost comparison details

Date Published: August 1, 2017