Can Barrier Reduction Subsidies Help Reduce Youth Delinquency and Improve Population Health? A Randomized Controlled Trial in Wilmington, Delaware

Project summary

The project team is conducting a randomized control trial (RCT) to test the impacts of both a conditional and unconditional monetary payment with the explicit goal of addressing youth at-risk of engagement in the criminal justice system. The first component of the intervention is a youth violence prevention program that involves an after-school curriculum followed by subsidized employment. The second component of the intervention is a weekly cash subsidy that is meant to reduce the barriers that youth face to both participating in programming and to living a healthy life with minimal justice system interaction.

Research Question(s)

  • What are the impacts of the components separately and combined on physical and mental health, health behaviors, school attendance and disciplinary actions, and program participation?
  • What are the impacts on secondary outcomes such as criminal involvement, education attainment, employment, and financial health?

Actionability

  • Offer insights about whether alleviating financial stress is a viable violence prevention strategy among adolescent boys.
  • Contribute to broader debates about whether financial support should be contingent on employment or other requirements.

Outcomes

Table 1: Outcomes of Interest

Variable

Data Source

Pre

Monthly

Post

Primary outcomes                                                       

Physical and mental health

(Injury from victimization; Emergency room utilization; Trauma)

 

Survey

 

X

 

X

 

X

Health behaviors

(Drug and alcohol use; Engagement in physical fights)

 

Survey

 

X

 

X

 

X

School attendance and disciplinary actions

(In school (y/n); Number of missed days; Number of in school suspensions; Number of out of school suspensions; Number of other disciplinary actions)

 

Administrative, Survey

 

X

 

X

 

X

Program Participation

(Number of after school sessions attended; Number of hours worked through subsidized employment; Self-reported engagement in programming; participation in other programs)

 

Administrative, Survey

 

X

 

X

 

X

Secondary outcomes

Criminal History

(Arrests; Convictions; Incarcerations)

 

Survey

 

X

 

X

 

X

Educational Attainment

(Percent of assignments completed; Grade point average; Standardized test scores; Matriculation)

 

Administrative, Survey

 

X

 

X

 

X

Employment

(Status: employed/unemployed; hours worked per week; salary/wage)

 

Administrative, Survey

 

X

 

X

 

X

Financial health

(Has a bank account (Y/N); Amount in savings; Financial literacy)

 

Survey

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

Methodology

Participants are randomly assigned into cohorts to receive either the after-school curriculum followed by subsidized employment; the barrier reduction subsidy; the after-school curriculum with the barrier reduction subsidy followed by subsidized employment; or programming after the completion of the study (the control group). The researchers are analyzing differences between cohorts using a fixed-effects model to estimate the impact of the programming, the barrier reduction subsidy, and the combination of the two on the outcomes of interest.


Teen looking at a computer
Grantee and Partner organizations

Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Delaware Department of Health and Social Services

Grant status
In Progress
Principal investigators
Christina Stacy, PhD
Start date
Award amount
$436,244
Duration
33 months

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