neighborhood effects

Abstract

The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration assigned housing vouchers via random
lottery to low-income public housing residents in five cities. We use the exogenous variation in
residential locations generated by the MTO demonstration to estimate the effects of
neighborhoods on youth crime and delinquency. We find that the offer to relocate to lowerpoverty
areas reduces the incidence of arrests among female youth for violent crimes and
property crimes, and increases self-reported problem behaviors and property crime arrests for
male youth -- relative to a control group. Female and male youth move through MTO into
similar types of neighborhoods, so the gender difference in MTO treatment effects seems to
reflect differences in responses to similar neighborhoods. Within-family analyses similarly show
that brothers and sisters respond differentially to the same new neighborhood environments with
more adverse effects for males. Males show some short-term improvements in delinquent
behaviors from moves to lower-poverty areas, but these effects are reversed and gender
differences in MTO treatment effects become pronounced by 3 to 4 years after random
assignment.

Year of Publication
2004
Number
482
Date Published
03/2004
Publication Language
eng
Citation Key
8353
Katz, L., Kling, J., & Ludwig, J. (2004). Youth Criminal Behavior in the Moving to Opportunity Experiment. Retrieved from http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01tq57nr02d (Original work published 03/2004AD)
Working Papers
Abstract

We analyze the effects of neighborhood characteristics on the mortality of black male
youth in families relocated through the Gautreaux program, a residential mobility program
implemented in Chicago in 1976. While we find significant evidence of neighborhood selfselection
by families participating in Gautreaux, we nonetheless find evidence that certain
placement neighborhood characteristics were associated with lower male youth mortality rates
after controlling for household and origin neighborhood characteristics. Placement
neighborhood characteristics related to human capital and work were more important predictors
of male youth mortality than characteristics related to race, poverty, or family composition.

Year of Publication
2004
Number
491
Date Published
07/2004
Publication Language
eng
Citation Key
7840
Votruba, M., & Kling, J. (2004). Effects of Neighborhood Characteristics on the Mortality of Black Male Youth: Evidence From Gautreaux. Retrieved from http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01000000010 (Original work published 07/2004AD)
Working Papers
Abstract

Several important social science literatures hinge on the functional relationship between
neighborhood characteristics and individual outcomes. Although there have been numerous
non-experimental estimates of these relationships, there are serious concerns about their
reliability because individuals self-select into neighborhoods. This paper uses data from HUD’s
Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized housing voucher experiment to estimate the
relationship between neighborhood poverty and individual outcomes using experimental
variation. In addition, it assesses the reliability of non-experimental estimates by comparing
them to experimental estimates.
We find that our method for using experimental variation to estimate the relationship
between neighborhood poverty and individual outcomes – instrumenting for neighborhood
poverty with site-by-treatment group interactions – produces precise estimates in models in
which poverty enters linearly. Our estimates of nonlinear and threshold models are not precise
enough to be conclusive, though many of our point estimates suggest little, if any, deviation from
linearity. Our non-experimental estimates are inconsistent with our experimental estimates,
suggesting that non-experimental estimates are not reliable. Moreover, the selection pattern that
reconciles the experimental and non-experimental results is complex, suggesting that common
assumptions about the direction of bias in non-experimental estimates may be incorrect.

Year of Publication
2004
Number
493
Date Published
08/2004
Publication Language
eng
Citation Key
7845
Liebman, J., Katz, L., & Kling, J. (2004). Beyond Treatment Effects: Estimating the Relationship Between Neighborhood Poverty and Individual Outcomes in the MTO Experiment. Retrieved from http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01g158bh29k (Original work published 08/2004AD)
Working Papers
Abstract

Families originally living in public housing were assigned housing vouchers by lottery,
encouraging moves to neighborhoods with lower poverty rates. Although we had hypothesized
that reading and math test scores would be higher among children in families offered vouchers
(with larger effects among younger children), the results show no significant effects on test
scores for any age group among over 5000 children ages 6 to 20 in 2002 who were assessed four
to seven years after randomization. Program impacts on school environments were considerably
smaller than impacts on neighborhoods, suggesting that achievement-related benefits from
improved neighborhood environments are small.

Year of Publication
2004
Number
492
Date Published
08/2004
Publication Language
eng
Citation Key
8150
Sanbonmatsu, L., Kling, J., Duncan, G., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2004). Neighborhoods and Academic Achievement: Results From The Moving to Opportunity Experiment. Retrieved from http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp012801pg33b (Original work published 08/2004AD)
Working Papers
Abstract

We study adult economic and health outcomes in the Moving to Opportunity (MTO)
demonstration, a randomized housing mobility experiment in which families living in highpoverty
U.S. public housing projects in five cities were given vouchers to help them move to
private housing units in lower-poverty neighborhoods. An “experimental” group was offered
vouchers valid only in a low-poverty neighborhood; a “Section 8” group was offered traditional
housing vouchers without geographic restriction; a control group was not offered vouchers. Our
sample consists largely of black and Hispanic female household heads with children.
Five years after random assignment, the families offered housing vouchers through MTO
lived in safer neighborhoods that had significantly lower poverty rates than those of the control
group not offered vouchers. However, we find no significant overall effects on adult
employment, earnings, or public assistance receipt -- though our sample sizes are not sufficiently
large to rule out moderate effects in either direction. In contrast, we do find significant mental
health benefits of the MTO intervention for the experimental group. We also demonstrate a more
general pattern for the mental health results using both treatment groups of systematically larger
effect sizes for groups experiencing larger changes in neighborhood poverty rates. In our
analysis of physical health outcomes, we find a significant reduction in obesity, but no
significant effects on four other aspects of physical health (general health, asthma, physical
limitations, and hypertension), and our summary measure of physical health was not significantly
affected by the MTO treatment for the overall sample.

Year of Publication
2004
Number
481
Date Published
04/2004
Publication Language
eng
Citation Key
8346
Sanbonmatsu, L., Liebman, J., Katz, L., & Kling, J. (2004). Moving to Opportunity and Tranquility: Neighborhood Effects on Adult Economic Self-Sufficiency and Health From a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment. Retrieved from http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01qz20ss50t (Original work published 04/2004AD)
Working Papers