Sara Heller

Assistant Professor of Criminology

Sara Heller uses large-scale randomized control trials to investigate the impact and cost effectiveness of public policies to improve life outcomes for disadvantaged youth.


University of Chicago, Ph.D., Public Policy, 2013
Georgetown University, Masters in Public Policy, 2008
Harvard University B.A., Psychology, 2002

Research Interests: 

Professor Heller focuses primarily on field experiments testing the effects of treatment interventions on crime, education, and other life outcomes.

Professor Heller is investigating the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy-based programming on juvenile crime and schooling outcomes. She is also conducting two related studies on the effects of summer jobs on youth, especially on their crime and labor market outcomes.

Selected Publications: 

Heller, Sara, Harold Pollack, Roseanna Ander & Jens Ludwig (2013). “Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout: A Randomized Field Experiment.” NBER Working Paper 19014.


Heller, Sara, Brian A. Jacob & Jens Ludwig (2011). “Family Income, Neighborhood Poverty, and Crime.” In Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, Eds. Philip J. Cook, Jens Ludwig and Justin McCrary. National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report, University of Chicago Press.


Ludwig, Jens, Sara Heller, Jonathan Guryan & Thomas Miles (2011). “How Can We Know if Juvenile Justice Reforms are Worth the Cost?” Models for Change Knowledge Brief, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.