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Social Impact Bonds: Being good pays

The Economist: United States
August 16, 2012
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IN A small classroom four teenage boys laugh and roll their eyes at each other’s wisecracks. The instructor, sometimes speaking in Spanish, encourages them to think about their futures. For his family, one says, “I want to buy a big-ass house.” Another wants to work with cars. A third thinks a family reunion would be great. The classroom is on Rikers Island, New York City’s biggest jail. The teens are participating in the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) programme, which helps them focus on personal responsibility through cognitive behaviour therapy. The programme’s goal is to cut the re-incarceration rate among the youngsters, and it is funded using social impact bonds (SIB).A SIB is an experimental financing method which connects financially-stressed municipalities with private investors to fund public projects at no initial cost to taxpayers. Also known as pay-for-success contracts, these schemes began in Britain’s Peterborough prison in 2010. Unlike most funding for social projects, which tend to pay for inputs, SIBs rely on results. New York is the first city in America to try one. Unlike in...



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