Dr. Heller is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan. She studies interventions to reduce crime and improve other life outcomes among disadvantaged youth. She uses large-scale experiments to isolate the causal effects of a variety of programs, including cognitive behavioral therapy-based interventions and summer jobs.
She holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, a M.P.P. from Georgetown, and a B.A. in Psychology from Harvard.
When Scale and Replication Work: Learning from Summer Youth Employment Experiments
This research paper addresses the challenges of scaling up and replicating successful human capital interventions due to two key sources of variability: differences in the treatment itself and changes in the target population.
Rethinking the Benefits of Youth Employment Programs: The Heterogeneous Effects of Summer Jobs
This research paper presents the results of two randomized field experiments, which both involved offering supported summer job opportunities to different groups of young people in Chicago.
Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) Youth Summer Employment Report
An analysis of the effectiveness of youth summer employment with a reduction in youth involvement in violent crime.
Summer Jobs Reduce Violence among Disadvantaged Youth
This article in the journal Science explores the impact of a summer employment program in Chicago on disadvantaged youths and their propensity for violent crimes.
One Summer Chicago Plus
Sara Heller and Jon Davis, in partnership with the Crime Lab, evaluated a youth jobs and mentoring program, One Summer Chicago Plus, which provided jobs to thousands of youth as part of the city’s anti-violence strategy.
Becoming a Man
Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (BAM) uses insights from behavioral science to help youth navigate high-stakes situations.