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Applied Microeconomics Group Seminar Predicting and Preventing Gun Violence: An Experimental Evaluation of READI Chicago

Speaker: Dr Sara Heller, University of Michigan and NBER

Abstract: Homicide kills more young Black men in the U.S. than the next nine leading causes of death combined. Despite the extremely high social cost of gun violence, only a few interventions have attempted to identify the individuals most likely to be involved in shootings—either as victims or perpetrators—and change their behavior. Even fewer have been well evaluated, and those few have been almost entirely focused on law enforcement. This project is a randomized controlled trial of a new intervention for those at the highest risk of gun violence, designed to test a different, social service-based approach. The Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI) uses three different methods to identify 2,500 men in Chicago at the highest risk of being involved in a shooting: machine learning prediction based on administrative arrest and victimization records, referrals from the street outreach staff who work in the relevant neighborhoods, and screening among those leaving prison and jail. It then provides them with 18 months of supported, subsidized work alongside cognitive behavioral therapy and personal development programming. The study's pre-specified follow-up period has just concluded. The talk will present preliminary results, including how well each prediction method anticipates actual shooting and violence involvement, as well as initial impact results on serious violence involvement.

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