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Public Housing, Housing Vouchers and Student Achievement: Evidence from Public Housing Demolitions in Chicago


  • Brian A. Jacob


There has been a substantial shift from public housing to voucher-based housing assistance over the past decade, largely in response to the rising cost of public housing and the high rates of crime, unemployment and school failure among public housing residents. Despite this shift, there is relatively little evidence on the impact of public housing or housing vouchers on educational outcomes. This paper utilizes a plausibly exogenous source of variation in housing assistance generated by public housing demolitions in Chicago to examine the impact of high-rise public housing on student outcomes. I find that children in households affected by the demolitions do no better or worse than their peers on a wide variety of achievement measures. Because the majority of households that leave public housing in response to the demolitions move to neighborhoods and schools that closely resemble those they left, the zero effect of the demolitions may be interpreted as the independent impact of public housing. These findings suggest that eliminating high-rise public housing will not necessarily lead to the benefits documented in housing mobility experiments such as Gautreaux or Moving to Opportunity

Suggested Citation

  • Brian A. Jacob, 2003. "Public Housing, Housing Vouchers and Student Achievement: Evidence from Public Housing Demolitions in Chicago," NBER Working Papers 9652, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9652
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, March.
    2. Currie, Janet & Yelowitz, Aaron, 2000. "Are public housing projects good for kids?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 99-124, January.
    3. Jens Ludwig & Greg J. Duncan & Paul Hirschfield, 2001. "Urban Poverty and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from a Randomized Housing-Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 655-679.
    4. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 607-654.
    5. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
    6. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-1177, September.
    7. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Samuel Bowles & Rajiv Sethi, 2006. "Social Segregation and the Dynamics of Group Inequality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2006-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    2. Eric D. Gould & Victor Lavy & M. Daniele Paserman, 2009. "Does Immigration Affect the Long-Term Educational Outcomes of Natives? Quasi-Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1243-1269, October.
    3. Carol Propper & Simon Burgess & Anne Bolster & George Leckie & Kelvyn Jones & Ron Johnston, 2007. "The Impact of Neighbourhood on the Income and Mental Health of British Social Renters," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 44(2), pages 393-415, February.

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    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies

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