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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. Edgar O. Olsen, 2003. "Housing Programs for Low-Income Households," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 365-442 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lawrence Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig, 2004. "Youth Criminal Behavior in the Moving to Opportunity Experiment," Working Papers 861, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  4. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2004. "Youth Criminal Behavior In The Moving To Opportunity Experiment," Working Papers 248, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  5. 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.
  6. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "The Long-Run Consequences of Living in a Poor Neighborhood," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt9np9p7m5, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
  7. Benabou, Roland, 1993. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 619-52, August.
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  9. Bruce A. Weinberg & Patricia B. Reagan & Jeffrey J. Yankow, 2004. "Do Neighborhoods Affect Hours Worked? Evidence from Longitudinal Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 891-924, October.
  10. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," NBER Working Papers 5163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
  12. Meyer, Bruce D. & Sullivan, James X., 2004. "The effects of welfare and tax reform: the material well-being of single mothers in the 1980s and 1990s," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1387-1420, July.
  13. 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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  15. 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.
  16. Lawrence F. Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Moving To Opportunity In Boston: Early Results Of A Randomized Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 607-654, May.
  17. Montgomery, James D, 1991. "Social Networks and Labor-Market Outcomes: Toward an Economic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1407-18, December.
  18. Susan L. Ettner & Richard G. Frank & Ronald C. Kessler, 1997. "The Impact of psychiatric disorders on labor market outcomes," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(1), pages 64-81, October.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross & Giorgio Topa, 2005. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Working Papers 927, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  22. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2005. "Experimental Analysis Of Neighborhood Effects On Youth," Working Papers 249, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  23. 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..
  24. Susan J. Popkin & James E. Rosenbaum & Patricia M. Meaden, 1993. "Labor market experiences of low-income black women in middle-class suburbs: Evidence from a survey of gautreaux program participants," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(3), pages 556-573.
  25. Ludwig, Jens & Duncan, Greg J. & Pinkston, Joshua C., 2005. "Housing mobility programs and economic self-sufficiency: Evidence from a randomized experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 131-156, January.
  26. Holzer, Harry J & Katz, Lawrence F & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Job Queues and Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 739-68, August.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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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