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Life Shocks and Homelessness

  • Marah A. Curtis

    (Boston University)

  • Hope Corman

    (Rider University and National Bureau of Economic Research)

  • Kelly Noonan

    (Rider University and National Bureau of Economic Research)

  • Nancy E. Reichman

    (University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey)

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    We exploit an exogenous health shock the birth of a child with a severe health condition to investigate the causal effect of a life shock on homelessness. Using survey data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study that have been augmented with information from hospital medical records, we find that the health shock increases the likelihood of homelessness three years later, particularly in cities with high housing costs. Homelessness is defined using both a traditional measure and a more contemporary measure that includes residential instability and doubling up without paying rent. The findings are consistent with the economic theory of homelessness, which posits that homelessness results from a conjunction of adverse circumstances in which housing markets and individual characteristics collide. They also add to a growing body of evidence that housing markets are an important contributor to homelessness and suggest that homelessness is a problem not easily addressed by existing public support programs.

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    Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 1374.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp12-03-ff
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    1. Curtis, Marah A. & Corman, Hope & Noonan, Kelly & Reichman, Nancy E., 2010. "Effects of child health on housing in the urban U.S," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(12), pages 2049-2056, December.
    2. Thomas DeLeire & Ariel Kalil, 2001. "Good Things Come in Threes: Single-parent Multigenerational Family Structure and Adolescent Adjustment," JCPR Working Papers 242, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    3. Marah A. Curtis, 2007. "Subsidized housing, housing prices, and the living arrangements of unmarried mothers," Housing Policy Debate, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 145-170, January.
    4. Elise Gould, 2004. "Decomposing the effects of children's health on mother's labor supply: is it time or money?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(6), pages 525-541.
    5. Glomm, Gerhard & John, Andrew, 2002. "Homelessness and labor markets," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 591-606, September.
    6. Honig, Marjorie & Filer, Randall K, 1993. "Causes of Intercity Variation in Homelessness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 248-55, March.
    7. Schultz, Jennifer & Corman, Hope & Noonan, Kelly & Reichman, Nancy E., 2009. "Effects of child health on parents' social capital," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 76-84, July.
    8. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy Reichman & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2011. "Life Shocks and Crime: A Test of the “Turning Point” Hypothesis," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1177-1202, August.
    9. He, Yinghua & O'Flaherty, Brendan & Rosenheck, Robert A., 2010. "Is shared housing a way to reduce homelessness? The effect of household arrangements on formerly homeless people," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 1-12, March.
    10. Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
    11. Nancy Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan, 2004. "Effects of child health on parents’ relationship status," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 569-584, August.
    12. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman, 2005. "Mother's Labor Supply in Fragile Families: The Role of Child Health," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 601-616, Fall.
    13. Early, Dirk W., 2005. "An empirical investigation of the determinants of street homelessness," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 27-47, March.
    14. Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan, 2006. "Effects of Child Health on Sources of Public Support," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 136–156, July.
    15. Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman, 2005. "New Fathers' Labor Supply: Does Child Health Matter?," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(s1), pages 1399-1417.
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