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Neighborhood Effects on Economic Self-Sufficiency: Evidence from a Randomized Housing-Mobility Experiment


  • Jens Otto Ludwig
  • Greg Duncan
  • Joshua C. Pinkston


This paper examines whether residence within high-poverty urban neighborhoods affects individual economic outcomes. Our data are generated by a randomized housing-mobility experiment, with measures of economic self-sufficiency taken from state administrative records. We find that providing low-income families living in public housing units with private-market rental subsidies that can only be redeemed in very low-poverty neighborhoods reduces rates of welfare use by around 15 percent. Most of this reduction appears to be explained by differences in welfare-to-work transitions. We also find that providing families with unrestricted housing vouchers has little effect on economic outcomes beyond the first year. To download a Brookings Institution policy brief of this paper, please visit the Brookings Institution's site.

Suggested Citation

  • Jens Otto Ludwig & Greg Duncan & Joshua C. Pinkston, 2000. "Neighborhood Effects on Economic Self-Sufficiency: Evidence from a Randomized Housing-Mobility Experiment," JCPR Working Papers 159, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:159

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Raphael, Steven, 1998. "The Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis and Black Youth Joblessness: Evidence from the San Francisco Bay Area," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 79-111, January.
    5. Mary Jo Bane & David T. Ellwood, 1986. "Slipping into and out of Poverty: The Dynamics of Spells," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-23.
    6. Montgomery, James D, 1991. "Social Networks and Labor-Market Outcomes: Toward an Economic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1407-1418, December.
    7. Holzer, Harry J, 1987. "Informal Job Search and Black Youth Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 446-452, June.
    8. Charles F. Manski, 1996. "Learning about Treatment Effects from Experiments with Random Assignment of Treatments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 709-733.
    9. J. K. Scholz, "undated". "The earned income tax credit: Participation, compliance, and antipoverty effectiveness," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1020-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    10. Daniel Immergluck, 1996. "What employers want: Job prospects for less-educated workers," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 135-143, June.
    11. 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.
    12. Ihlanfeldt Keith R., 1993. "Intra-urban Job Accessibility and Hispanic Youth Employment Rates," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 254-271, March.
    13. Quigley, John M., 2002. "A Decent Home: Housing Policy in Perspective," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt8f57x42q, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
    14. J.D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens & D.B. Rubin, 1993. "Identification of Causal Effects Using Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    16. David T. Ellwood, 1986. "The Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis: Are There Teenage Jobs Missing in the Ghetto?," NBER Chapters,in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 147-190 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross, 2006. "Identifying Individual and Group Effects in the Presence of Sorting: A Neighborhood Effects Application," Working papers 2006-13, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2009.
    2. 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.
    3. David I. Levine & Gary Painter, 2003. "Are Measured School Effects Just Sorting?," Working Paper 8619, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
    4. Krauth, Brian V., 2004. "A dynamic model of job networking and social influences on employment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1185-1204, March.
    5. Levine, David I. & Painter, Gary, 2008. "Are measured school effects just sorting?: Causality and correlation in the National Education Longitudinal Survey," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 460-470, August.
    6. Thomas J. Nechyba & Randall P. Walsh, 2004. "Urban Sprawl," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 177-200, Fall.
    7. Lapar, Ma. Lucila A. & Holloway, Garth J. & Ehui, Simeon K., 2003. "How Big Is Your Neighborhood? Spatial Implications Of Market Participation By Smallholder Livestock Producers," 2003 Annual Meeting, August 16-22, 2003, Durban, South Africa 25860, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. Shroder, Mark, 2002. "Does housing assistance perversely affect self-sufficiency? A review essay," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 381-417, December.

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