U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Rethinking the Benefits of Youth Employment Programs: The Heterogeneous Effects of Summer Jobs

NCJ Number
Review of Economics and Statistics Volume: 102 Issue: 4 Dated: 2020 Pages: 664-677
Date Published
14 pages

This paper reports the results of two randomized field experiments, each offering different populations of Chicago youth a supported summer job.


The program consistently reduced violent-crime arrests, even after the summer, without improving employment, schooling, or other arrests; if anything, property crime increased over 2 to 3 years. Using a new machine- learning method, the study revealed heterogeneity in employment impacts that standard methods would miss, described who benefitted, and leveraged the heterogeneity to explore mechanisms. The study concluded that brief youth employment programs can generate important behavioral change, but for different outcomes, youth, and reasons than those most often considered in the literature. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020