Early work experience for disadvantaged youth is shown to be an important tool for enhancing their future employment prospects and earnings potential. Yet teen employment has fallen steadily since 2000, notably among low-income African-Americans and Hispanics in high-poverty neighborhoods. Even so, few of the newer programs that aim to increase youth employment have been rigorously evaluated in terms of efficacy or efficiency. While prior studies demonstrated some encouraging results, my research sheds light on the mechanisms driving improved outcomes to better understand how these impacts are achieved and for whom benefits are greatest.
Supported by a major grant from the William T. Grant Foundation, I am conducting a multiyear evaluation of the Boston Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). I find that Boston SYEP participants reported significantly greater increases in community engagement, social skills, job readiness, and college aspirations during the summer relative to the control group (Modestino and Paulsen 2019). Linking these survey outcomes to administrative data on criminal arraignments, I find that the SYEP treatment group had significantly fewer arraignments for both violent and property crime compared to the control group and that this reduction in criminal activity is correlated with improvements in social skills (Modestino 2019). My work in progress shows that youth in the SYEP treatment group also had significantly lower rates of chronic absenteeism relative to the control group in the school year following participation, largely due to fewer days of unexcused absences—subsequently improving course performance, lowering the dropout rate, and raising the likelihood of graduation (Modestino and Paulsen 2019).
Supported by a major grant from the Citi Community Development Foundation, I have also evaluated the Boston Youth Credit Building Initiative (BYCBI), a one-year financial coaching program for young adults ages 18 to 29. Using a randomized control trial to estimate the program’s impacts, I find that the BYCBI increases access to credit and improves credit scores and ratings—which in turn lowers participants’ interest rates on car loans and reduces their reliance on alternative financial services such as payday loans. These impacts appear to be driven by improvements in financial self‐efficacy, rather than gains in financial literacy, overturning existing beliefs and providing an important insight for policymakers (Modestino, Sederberg, and Tuller 2019).
PEER REVIEWED JOURNALS
Published, In-Press, or Accepted
Modestino, A. 2019. “How Do Summer Youth Employment Programs Improve Criminal Justice Outcomes, and for Whom?” Journal of Public Policy Analysis and Management.
Modestino, A. and *Paulsen, R. 2019. “Reducing Inequality Summer by Summer: Lessons from the Boston Summer Youth Employment Program Survey.” Evaluation Program and Planning, vol. 72, pp. 40-53.
Modestino, A. Sederberg, R, and Tuller, L. 2019 “Assessing the Effectiveness of Financial Coaching: Evidence from the Boston Youth Credit Building Initiative.” Accepted. Journal of Consumer Affairs.
[Working Paper Version]
Currently Under Review
Modestino, A. and *Paulsen, R. 2019. “School’s Out: How Summer Youth Employment Programs Impact Academic Outcomes.”
[Working Paper Version]
Modestino, A. 2018. “How Can Summer Jobs Reduce Crime Among Youth?” Report, Brookings Institution, January.
Modestino, A. 2017. “How Do Summer Youth Employment Programs Improve Criminal Justice Outcomes, and for Whom?” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Community Development Discussion Paper No. 17-01.
PUBLIC POLICY REPORTS AND BRIEFS
Modestino, A., Sederberg, R., Tuller, L. 2019. “An Evaluation of the Boston Youth Credit Building Initiative: Final Report.” Office of Financial Empowerment, City of Boston.
Modestino, A. Morikawa, M., and Nguyen,T. 2017. “Reducing Inequality Summer by Summer.” Office of Workforce Development, City of Boston, December
Modestino, A., Sederberg, R., Tuller, L. 2017. “An Evaluation of the Boston Youth Credit Building Initiative: Baseline Report.” Office of Financial Empowerment, City of Boston, May.
Modestino, A. and Nguyen, T. 2016. “The Potential for Summer Youth Employment Programs to Reduce Inequality: What Do We Know?” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Regional and Community Outreach Issue Brief 16-03.
Modestino, A. 2013. “Uncertain Futures: Are American Youth Increasingly Idle? Think again.” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, New England Public Policy Center, Policy Brief 13-4.
Modestino, A. and Dennett, J. 2013. “Uncertain Futures? Youth Attachment to the Labor Market in the U.S. and New England.” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, New England Public Policy Center, Research Report 13-3.