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Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects

January 2007

Jeffrey R. Kling, Jeffrey B. Liebman, Lawrence F. Katz


A sample of primarily female headed minority families, living in public housing in high poverty neighborhoods were offered vouchers to cover moving costs. They were interviewed by the researchers 4 to 7 years after receiving the vouchers. The study found mixed results. While the families lived in safer neighborhoods with lower rates of poverty than the families in the control group, they themselves were not significantly more self-sufficient or physically healthier. The adults in the families, as well as the female children, had better mental health, but the male children were worse of psychologically than those in the control group, and performed worse in school.

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Policy Implications

While moving did have significant effects, the benefits of the vouchers were mixed. In the absence of a clear net benefit, the scientists argue that policy would be better off targeting distressed neighborhoods for improvement, rather than using housing vouchers to move families out of them.

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