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 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.


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

Jonathan M.V. Davis & Sara B. Heller

Author's final version, accepted for publication May 2019 at the Review of Economics and Statistics 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

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

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

Summer Jobs Reduce Violence among Disadvantaged Youth (2014)

Sara B. Heller

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

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

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

Sara Heller, Harold Pollack, Roseanna Ander & Jens Ludwig

NBER Working Paper 19014. NBER link

In Progress

Bertrand, Marianne & Sara Heller, “One Summer Chicago Plus: Scaling and Unpacking a Successful Youth Summer Jobs Program”

Heller, Sara, "Applying Promising New Findings: An Experimental Evaluation of Philadelphia WorkReady"

Heller, Sara & Judd Kessler, “The Effect of Letters of Recommendation in the Youth Labor Market”

Deming, David, Will Dobbie & Sara Heller, “Experimental Evidence on Reducing Problem Behaviors and Improving Employability in Youth Education and Training Centers.”

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