Preventing violence in the most violent contexts: behavioral and neurophysiological evidence from El Salvador

Case Studies & Research
73 p.

Violence and delinquency levels in Central America are among the highest in the world and constrain human capital acquisition. We conduct a randomized experiment in El Salvador designed to reduce this problem. The program works with 10-16 year olds and combines a behavioral intervention with extra-curricular activities. We find the program reduced bad behavior and absenteeism and improved student grades. By measuring brain activity, we show a key mechanism operates through emotional self-regulation, whereby treated adolescents become calmer when facing external stimuli. We also find positive spillovers on educational outcomes for other students in classes with treated students.

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