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Beyond Treatment Effects: Estimating the Relationship Between Neighborhood Poverty and Individual Outcomes in the MTO Experiment

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  • Liebman, Jeffrey

    (Harvard U)

  • Katz, Lawrence

    (Harvard U)

  • Kling, Jeffrey

    (Princeton U)

Abstract

Several important social science literatures hinge on the functional relationship between neighborhood characteristics and individual outcomes. Although there have been numerous non-experimental estimates of these relationships, there are serious concerns about their reliability because individuals self-select into neighborhoods. This paper uses data from HUD’s Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized housing voucher experiment to estimate the relationship between neighborhood poverty and individual outcomes using experimental variation. In addition, it assesses the reliability of non-experimental estimates by comparing them to experimental estimates. We find that our method for using experimental variation to estimate the relationship between neighborhood poverty and individual outcomes – instrumenting for neighborhood poverty with site-by-treatment group interactions – produces precise estimates in models in which poverty enters linearly. Our estimates of nonlinear and threshold models are not precise enough to be conclusive, though many of our point estimates suggest little, if any, deviation from linearity. Our non-experimental estimates are inconsistent with our experimental estimates, suggesting that non-experimental estimates are not reliable. Moreover, the selection pattern that reconciles the experimental and non-experimental results is complex, suggesting that common assumptions about the direction of bias in non-experimental estimates may be incorrect.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp04-036.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp04-036

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References

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  1. Janet Currie & Aaron Yelowitz, 1997. "Are Public Housing Projects Good for Kids?," NBER Working Papers 6305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. E. Glaeser & B. Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2003. "The Social Multiplier," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000130, David K. Levine.
  3. Richard Arnott & John Rowse, 1982. "Peer Group Effects and Educational Attainment," Working Papers 497, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  4. Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter & Sauvageau, Yvon, 1978. "Peer group effects and educational production functions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 97-106, August.
  5. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
  6. Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "The Long-Run Consequences Of Living In A Poor Neighborhood," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1533-1575, November.
  7. Kling, Jeffrey & Liebman, Jeffrey, 2004. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects on Youth," Working Paper Series rwp04-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  8. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman & Lawrence F. Katz & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2004. "Moving To Opportunity And Tranquility: Neighborhood Effects On Adult Economic Self-Sufficiency And Health From A Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," Working Papers 247, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  9. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  10. de Bartolome, Charles A M, 1990. "Equilibrium and Inefficiency in a Community Model with Peer Group Effects," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(1), pages 110-33, February.
  11. Jeffrey R. Kling & B. Jeffrey Liebman, 2004. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects on Youth," Working Papers 862, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  12. Galster, George, 2002. "An economic efficiency analysis of deconcentrating poverty populations," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 303-329, December.
  13. Fernandez, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 1996. "Income Distribution, Communities, and the Quality of Public Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 135-64, February.
  14. Roland Benabou, 1991. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," NBER Technical Working Papers 0113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Florence Goffette-Nagot & Claire Dujardin, 2005. "Neighborhood effects, public housing and unemployment in France," Working Papers 0505, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  2. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," NBER Working Papers 11577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Goux, Dominique & Maurin, Eric, 2006. "Close Neighbours Matter: Neighbourhood Effects on Early Performance at School," CEPR Discussion Papers 5682, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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