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The Effects of Public Housing on Children: Evidence from Colombia


  • Adriana Camacho
  • Valentina Duque
  • Michael Gilraine
  • Fabio Sanchez


We analyze the effect of Colombia's ambitious "Free Housing" program on children's educational outcomes. The program was generous, giving free housing to beneficiaries in desirable areas. We evaluate the program by leveraging housing lotteries and linking applicants to their children. We find that public housing increases high school graduation by seven percentage points – a seventeen percent increase relative to the control mean – and boosts exit exam scores and college-going. Using a survey to explore mechanisms, lottery winners report better environmental conditions and shorter commute times. Their children also attend better schools and live in neighborhoods with less crime.

Suggested Citation

  • Adriana Camacho & Valentina Duque & Michael Gilraine & Fabio Sanchez, 2022. "The Effects of Public Housing on Children: Evidence from Colombia," NBER Working Papers 30090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:30090
    Note: CH DEV ED

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    Cited by:

    1. Adriana Camacho-González & Jorge Enrique Caputo-Leyva & Fabio Sánchez-Torres, 2022. "A new beginning: The effect of the free housing program on the quality of life of beneficiary households," Documentos CEDE 20303, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure

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