Crime and Violence Initiative: Funded Projects

Please find below projects funded by the Crime and Violence Initiative.

Projects Funded During the Third Round (Fall 2018):

Engendering Policing: Evaluating Reforms to Increase Women’s Access to Security and Justice
Researchers: Sandip Sukhtankar, Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner, Akshay Mangla
Location: India
Type of Project: Full Project
Poor and marginalized citizens, particularly women, often lack access to a responsive police force and, consequently experience diminished security and high levels of crime and violence. Efforts to address such issues often include gender-targeted policing interventions, but the underlying assumptions as well as impacts of such interventions have not been rigorously studied to date. We study them in the context of India, a country plagued by rising rates of gender-based violence coupled with low rates of reporting of such crimes. We employ an RCT to evaluate whether the establishment of police station-level Women’s Help Desks (WHDs), as well as the deployment of additional female personnel to these WHDs, improves the responsiveness of frontline officers to women, as well as levels of crime and crime reporting. We aim to test the theory that the increased presence of under-represented groups within the police can favorably affect policing practices towards these groups.

Fostering Empathy in the Classroom: A Randomized Educational Intervention for the Integration of Child Refugees
Researchers: Sule Alan, Ceren Baysan, and Elif Kubilay
Location: Turkey
Type of Project: Full Project
Since the beginning of the Syrian War in 2011, Turkey has received over 3.5 million Syrian refugees, including nearly 1 million children. Syrian refugee children face social exclusion and in-school violence. Socially excluded individuals are less likely to exhibit prosocial attributes. These outcomes may justify even further social exclusion and intergroup violence. This study evaluates a unique educational intervention that aims to foster “perspective-taking” among host and Syrian students in schools that recently received a significant number of refugee children. The intervention involves a specifically designed curriculum that teachers will be trained on to deliver to their students. We will measure the effect of the intervention on intergroup violence and acts of social exclusion through its influence on prosocial behavior, noncognitive skills, and social preferences. Experimentally elicited measures of these mechanisms are used in the evaluation; such as, altruism, trust, patience, and cooperation.

Tackling Sexual Harassment: Evidence from India
Researchers: Karmini Sharma
Location: India
Type of Project: Pilot
This project aims to understand the effects of acquiring specific skills and information on individuals’ capabilities to tackle sexual harassment directly or indirectly. To do so, it aims to test interventions targeted at men and women separately. We first aim to study the effect of perception of safety on women’s socio-economic outcomes by providing women with a safety training program. Next, we propose interventions that engage men to improve sexual harassment reporting by women. These interventions will test whether information provision and gender sensitization training for highly influential men can increase their peers’ engagement in initiatives that aim to eradicate sexual harassment. We will then study whether this translates to changes in sexual harassment reporting by women amongst their peers.

Local Government Accountability in Fragile States
Researchers: Dylan Groves 
Location: Somalia
Type of Project: Travel/Proposal development

Projects Funded During the Second Round (Spring 2018):

Can Contact Reduce Conflict between Farmers and Herders? Evidence from Nigeria
Researchers: Oeindrila Dube, James Robinson
Location: Nigeria
Type of Project: Full study
In this study we will investigate whether “contact” can help resolve the endemic farmer-herder conflicts in Nigeria. The Contact Hypothesis postulates that contact between groups can resolve conflicts, yet there is little causal evidence or understanding of mechanisms. Our study will provide the first field experimental micro evidence on whether, and how, contact influences conflict. In collaboration with Search for Common Ground, we will conduct an RCT that convenes inter-dialogues with farmers and herders in 120 communities. Our analysis will test whether contact can reduce conflict even when the underlying conflict is economic in nature.

Community Policing, Citizen Feedback, and Public Trust
Researchers: Ali Cheema, Jacob Shapiro, Ali Hasanain
Locaiton: Pakistan
Type of Project: Full study
This project extends an ongoing study testing the efficacy of citizen-centric problem-oriented policing, and local alternative dispute resolution and reconciliation forums. The extension will (a) study police officers’ beliefs with respect to reforms to local policing; (b) improve our ability to detect and measure treatment spillovers; (c) collect data for longer than previously planned, in order to detect effects that are slower to move, such as beliefs about the state; and (d) amplify the intensity of the intervention.

Overcoming the trust deficit: Inter-group contact and associational life in post-ISIS Iraq
Researchers: Salma Mousa
Location: Iraq
Type of Project: Full study
This study experimentally tests the potential for intergroup contact to reduce prejudice in a conflict setting for the first time. I randomly assign Iraqi Christians displaced by ISIS to an all-Christian soccer team or to a team mixed with Sunni Arabs – who share the same ethno-religious background as ISIS. In the pilot, Christians assigned to mixed teams were 26.1 percentage points more likely to attend a Ramadan event three weeks after the intervention, 45.5 percentage points more likely to train with Muslims four months later, and 0.31 standard deviations more likely to believe that peaceful coexistence is possible. These findings suggest that cooperative contact within civic organizations can rebuild social trust over time. I propose a scale-up of the experiment that tracks outcomes among participants, their households, and the local community at large.

Somali Women's Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment
Researchers: Nicholas Haas, Prabin Khadka
Location: Somalia
Type of Project: Travel/Proposal development

What drives individuals to join armed organizations? The role of revenge, moral sentiments, and social networks
Researchers: Raul Sanchez de la Sierra
Location: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Type of Project: Full study
Leveraging an existing relationship with a large-scale armed organization, this study examines who joins armed organizations and why, as well as the effect of the participation motives on the performance and trajectories inside the group. The study aims to shed light on the traditionally unexplored role of moral sentiments of injustice and parochial revenge, and their impact on recruitment and violent labor management. We will interview new recruits as soon as they onboard, set up a fit bit tracking device, track their village of origin, interview their household and a random sample of households, and randomly select households among the households of new recruits to receive a cash transfer, in order to examine whether higher income creates incentives to quit the group.

Projects Funded During the First Round (Fall 2017):

Crime and its Effects in Pakistan’s Megacity
Researchers: Mashail Malik
Location: Pakistan
Type of Project: Travel/Proposal development

Domestic Violence Mitigation Initiative
Researchers: Sharon Barnhardt, Pavan Mamidi, Nicholas Haas
Location: India
Type of Project: Travel/Proposal development

Exposure to Representation in Police and Crime Reporting: An Experiment in Bihar, India
Researchers: Nirvikar Jassal, Supreet Kaur
Location: India
Type of Project: Travel/Proposal development

Farm Theft and Social Relationships: Evidence from Maasai Farm Watchmen
Researchers: Julian Dyer
Location: Kenya
Type of Project: Pilot
This project explores whether property crime has social effects by increasing exclusionary attitudes towards out-groups. Theft from farms is a pervasive problem in rural areas in developing countries. This project explores the effect of property crime on social relationships and group identity, with an experimental treatment subsidizing the availability of highly-regarded Maasai farm watchmen in Kenya. Fear of theft can have direct economic effects, by discouraging investment in high-value, but easily-stolen, crops. This type of crime can have social effects, where neighbors develop tight social bonds as a form of mutual assurance and mutual protection of property. Another, more pernicious, aspect of these tight in-groups is the exclusion of out-groups, with outsiders often blamed for crime. This sharpened distinction between in-group and out-group appears (from qualitative interviews) to fall along ethnic cleavages in heterogeneous areas. This project will test whether prevention of property crime in rural areas reduces ingroup-outgroup barriers between neighbors and non-neighbors, and between co-ethnics and other groups.

Formal and Informal Security Provision in South Africa – A Randomized Controlled Trial on Community Alarm Systems
Researchers: Anna Wilke
Location: South Africa
Type of Project: Travel/Proposal development

Making Schools Safe for Learning: An Evaluation of "Escola Segura, Familia Forte" in Campo Grande, Brazil
Researchers: Claudio Ferraz, Rodrigo Soares
Location: Brazil
Type of Project: Full study
This project evaluates the effects of reducing crime and violence in the vicinity and interior of schools through policing that is specifically trained to patrol schools. We will randomly select 56 schools to receive direct police patrol and a direct network of communication with the police through a whatsapp application. We will then use the randomized intervention to measure the effects of intensive patrols on crime and violence outside and inside schools, and measures of schooling outcomes.

Mitigating Xenophobic Violence in Africa
Researchers: Jeremy Weinstein, Darin Christensen
Location: South Africa
Type of Project: Travel/Proposal development

Promoting Citizen-State Cooperation in Gang-contested Communities
Researchers: Andrew Miller
Location: Nigeria
Type of Project: Travel/Proposal development

Training Local Leaders to Prevent and Reduce Gender-Based Violence in their Communities
Researchers: Erica Field
Location: Peru
Type of Project: Full study
Gender-based violence (GBV) against women remains a major public health concern; yet to date there has been little rigorous research evaluating the impact of interventions aimed to reduce and prevent GBV. This project will bring new evidence on violence-reduction policies by carefully evaluating the impact of an innovative and theory-driven policy intervention in Peru that aims to reduce GBV through a community-based approach that trains local leaders to become community health volunteers and to work within their communities on GBV prevention, monitoring, and reduction. In close cooperation with the Government of Peru, this project’s research design will contribute to the empirical literature on the efficacy of GBV interventions by addressing pressing methodological concerns, provide feedback for programming of public institutions, and supply evidence on the theory underlying GBV.

What drives individuals to join armed organizations? The role of revenge, moral sentiments, and social networks.
Researchers: Raul Sanchez de la Sierra
Location: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Type of Project: Full study
Organized crime and armed groups often permeate large parts of society of less “developed” countries. To sustain their violent operations, armed groups need to recruit reliable violent labor, and then, they need to manage it. New recruits usually join knowing they will take unusually high life-threatening risks, which often involves murdering other people. Why do individuals make this decision? In this study, I propose to exploit a context and a relationship I previously built with a large scale armed organization to answer this question, and examine the trajectories in the organization of individuals with different motives. The study aims to shed light on the traditionally unexplored role of moral sentiments of injustice and parochial revenge, and their impact for recruitment and violent labor management.