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Moving to Opportunity and Tranquility: Neighborhood Effects on Adult Economic Self-Sufficiency and Health from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment

  • King, Jeffrey

    (Princeton U)

  • Liebman, Jeffrey

    (Harvard U)

  • Katz, Lawrence

    (Harvard U)

  • Sanbonmatsu, Lisa

    (NBER)

We study adult economic and health outcomes in the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration, a randomized housing mobility experiment in which families living in high-poverty U.S. public housing projects in five cities were given vouchers to help them move to private housing units in lower-poverty neighborhoods. An “experimental” group was offered vouchers valid only in a low-poverty neighborhood; a “Section 8” group was offered traditional housing vouchers without geographic restriction; a control group was not offered vouchers. Our sample consists largely of black and Hispanic female household heads with children. Five years after random assignment, the families offered housing vouchers through MTO lived in safer neighborhoods that had significantly lower poverty rates than those of the control group not offered vouchers. We find no significant overall effects on adult employment, earnings, or public assistance receipt -- though our sample sizes are not sufficiently large to rule out moderate effects in either direction. In contrast, we do find significant mental health benefits of the MTO intervention for the experimental group. We also demonstrate a more general pattern for the mental health results using both voucher groups of systematically larger effect sizes for groups experiencing larger changes in neighborhood poverty rates. In our analysis of physical health outcomes, we find a significant reduction in obesity for the experimental group, but no significant effects on four other aspects of physical health (general health, asthma, physical limitations, and hypertension) or on our summary measure of physical health.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp04-035.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp04-035
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  1. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2004. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects on Youth," Working Papers 1, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross & Giorgio Topa, 2008. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 1150-1196, December.
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  4. Edgar O. Olsen, 2000. "The Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Methods of Delivering Housing Subsidies," Virginia Economics Online Papers 351, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  5. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2004. "Youth Criminal Behavior in the Moving to Opportunity Experiment," Working Papers 6, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  12. Raphael, Steven, 1998. "The Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis and Black Youth Joblessness: Evidence from the San Francisco Bay Area," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 79-111, January.
  13. Guido W. Imbens & Donald B. Rubin, 1997. "Estimating Outcome Distributions for Compliers in Instrumental Variables Models," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 555-574.
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  15. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2004. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects on Youth," Working Papers 1, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  16. 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.
  17. Rebecca M. Blank & David T. Ellwood, 2001. "The Clinton Legacy for America's Poor," NBER Working Papers 8437, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  19. Susan L. Ettner & Richard G. Frank & Ronald C. Kessler, 1997. "The Impact of Psychiatric Disorders on Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 5989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  22. Marianne E. Page & Gary Solon, 2003. "Correlations between sisters and neighbouring girls in their subsequent income as adults," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 545-562.
  23. Heckman, James J. & Lalonde, Robert J. & Smith, Jeffrey A., 1999. "The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1865-2097 Elsevier.
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  27. Quigley, John M., 2002. "A Decent Home: Housing Policy in Perspective," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt8f57x42q, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
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  30. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2002. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects and Inequality," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0217, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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  33. David T. Ellwood, 1986. "The Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis: Are There Teenage Jobs Missing in the Ghetto?," NBER Chapters, in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 147-190 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  36. repec:pri:cheawb:bullets042601 is not listed on IDEAS
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