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

Author

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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Liebman, Jeffrey & Katz, Lawrence & Kling, Jeffrey, 2004. "Beyond Treatment Effects: Estimating the Relationship Between Neighborhood Poverty and Individual Outcomes in the MTO Experiment," Working Paper Series rwp04-036, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp04-036
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Brian A. Jacob, 2004. "Public Housing, Housing Vouchers, and Student Achievement: Evidence from Public Housing Demolitions in Chicago," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 233-258, March.
    2. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
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    4. 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..
    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. Currie, Janet & Yelowitz, Aaron, 2000. "Are public housing projects good for kids?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 99-124, January.
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    9. Galster, George, 2002. "An economic efficiency analysis of deconcentrating poverty populations," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 303-329, December.
    10. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey 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 5, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    11. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 1996. "Income Distribution, Communities, and the Quality of Public Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 135-164.
    12. Roland Benabou, 1993. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 619-652.
    13. Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "The Long-Run Consequences of Living in a Poor Neighborhood," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1533-1575.
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    15. 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.
    16. 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 110-133, February.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Claire Dujardin & Florence Goffette-Nagot, 2005. "Neighborhood effects, public housing and unemployment in France," Post-Print halshs-00180046, HAL.
    2. Jens Ludwig & Jeffrey R. Kling, 2007. "Is Crime Contagious?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 491-518.
    3. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin, 2007. "Close Neighbours Matter: Neighbourhood Effects on Early Performance at School," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(523), pages 1193-1215, October.
    4. repec:pri:cepsud:117kling is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:pri:cheawb:j_kling_2005 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Fitzsimons, Emla & Malde, Bansi & Mesnard, Alice & Vera-Hernández, Marcos, 2016. "Nutrition, information and household behavior: Experimental evidence from Malawi," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 113-126.
    7. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, January.
    8. Ricardo Maertens, 2016. "Adverse rainfall shocks and civil war: Myth or reality?," HiCN Working Papers 212, Households in Conflict Network.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

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