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

  • Brian A. Jacob
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    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

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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9652.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2003
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: published as Jacob, Brian A. "Public Housing Vouchers, And Student Achievement: Evidence From Public Housing Demolitions In Chicago," American Economic Review, 2004, v94(1,Mar), 233-258.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9652
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    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, 03.
    2. 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.
    3. Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "The Long-Run Consequences Of Living In A Poor Neighborhood," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1533-1575, November.
    4. 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 1141-77, September.
    5. Jens Otto Ludwig & Greg Duncan & Paul Hirschfield, 2000. "Urban Poverty and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from a Randomized Housing-Mobility Experiment," JCPR Working Papers 158, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    6. 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.
    7. 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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