Sara Heller

Assistant Professor

sbheller (at) umich "dot" edu

University of Michigan

Department of Economics

611 Tappan Street, Lorch Hall Room 238

Ann Arbor MI 48109

Main Office: 734.764.2355

Fax: 734.764.2769


Dr. Heller studies interventions to reduce crime and improve other life outcomes among young people. 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 (2022)

Sara B. Heller

Journal of Public Economics, 209 JPubE link

Accepted version PDF

Formerly NBER Working Paper 28705 NBER link

Policy Brief Replication Code (code only, no data are available for replication)

Soft Skills in the Youth Labor Market (2022)

Sara B. Heller & Judd B. Kessler

American Economic Association: Papers and Proceedings, 112(121-25) AEA link

Rethinking the Benefits of Youth Employment Programs: The Heterogeneous Effects of Summer Jobs (2020)

Jonathan M.V. Davis & Sara B. Heller

The Review of Economics and Statistics, 102(4): 664-677 ReStat link

Author's final version, accepted for publication May 2019 PDF

Please note: Due to length restrictions, there is a lot of information in the online appendix (including considerably more detail on the causal forest application, especially sections H and I.5) Appendix

Formerly NBER Working Paper 23443 (posted 2017) NBER link PDF Appendix

Related podcasts: Probable Causation, J-PAL Voices

Related writing and interviews: NYT Op-ed, PBS NewsHour

How to Allocate Slots: the Market Design of Summer Youth Employment Programs (forthcoming)

Sara B. Heller & Judd B. Kessler

In Fair by Design: Economic Design Approaches to Inequality, Eds. S.D. Kominers & A. Teytelboym. Oxford University Press Series on Inequality in the Twenty-First Century, Oxford University Press. PDF

Using Causal Forests to Predict Treatment Heterogeneity: An Application to Summer Jobs (2017)

Jonathan M.V. Davis & Sara B. Heller

American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, 107(5): 546–550. PDF AEA link

Thinking, Fast and Slow? Some Field Experiments to Reduce Crime and Dropout in Chicago (2017)

Sara B. Heller, Anuj K. Shah, Jonathan Guryan, Jens Ludwig, Sendhil Mullainathan & Harold A. Pollack

Quarterly Journal of Economics, 132(1): 1-54 QJE link

Formerly NBER Working Paper 21178 (posted 2015, updated 2016) NBER link

Related podcast: Freakonomics

Summer Jobs Reduce Violence among Disadvantaged Youth (2014)

Sara B. Heller

Science, 346(6214): 1219-1223 Link to materials

Related podcasts: Probable Causation, J-PAL Voices

Related writing and interviews: NYT Op-ed, PBS NewsHour

Family Income, Neighborhood Poverty, and Crime (2011)

Sara B. Heller, Brian A. Jacob & Jens Ludwig

In Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, Eds. Philip J. Cook, Jens Ludwig & Justin McCrary. National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report, University of Chicago Press.

Working Papers

Information Frictions and Skill Signaling in the Youth Labor Market (posted 2021, revised 2022)

Previous version circulated as "The Effects of Letters of Recommendation in the Youth Labor Market"

Sara B. Heller & Judd B. Kessler

NBER Working Paper 29579 NBER link

Ungated version (updated June 2022) PDF

Does Administrative Burden Deter Young People? Evidence from Summer Jobs Programs (2022)

Syon Bhanot & Sara B. Heller

Revise & resubmit, Journal of Behavioral Public Administration

Working paper available upon request

Machine Learning Can Predict Shooting Victimization Well Enough to Help Prevent It (2022)

Sara B. Heller, Benjamin Jakubowski, Zubin Jelveh & Max Kapustin

NBER Working Paper 30170 NBER link

Ungated version PDF

Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout: A Randomized Field Experiment (2013)

Sara Heller, Harold Pollack, Roseanna Ander & Jens Ludwig

NBER Working Paper 19014 NBER link

Permanent working paper, subsumed under NBER WP 21178 and Heller et al. 2017

In Progress

Bertrand, Marianne, Monica Bhatt, Chris Blattman, Sara Heller & Max Kapustin. “Predicting and Preventing Gun Violence: Experimental Results from READI Chicago”

Craig, Ashley, Sara Heller & Nikhil Rao, “Using Network Data to Measure Social Returns and Improve Targeting of Crime-Reduction Interventions”