Exposure to Better Neighborhoods Has Positive Effects on Children

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from NCPA,

The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offered randomly selected subsets of families living in high-poverty housing projects subsidized housing vouchers (section 8 or MTO experimental vouchers) to move to lower-poverty neighborhoods in the mid-1990s.

The younger MTO children received a much larger dosage of exposure to improved neighborhood environments than the older MTO children did. The treatment-on-treated effects on post-RA neighborhood poverty rates are similar for the younger and older MTO children.

– The MTO experimental voucher treatment increased substantially the earnings of children who were young (below age 13) at the point of the move, with a “treatment of the treated” impact on individual earnings of approximately 35 percent.
– The Section 8 voucher also has a large positive effect on college quality for younger children. The estimated effects on college quality for older children are negative and substantial in magnitude.
– The Section 8 voucher has smaller effects on the father’s presence at birth than the experimental voucher. And the older female children in the MTO experimental group are less likely to have a father listed on the birth certificate when they have births relative to the control group.
– Hence, marriage and fertility behavior exhibit what is now a familiar pattern of effects, with significant increases in marriage rates and reductions in single parenthood for children who moved to lower-poverty neighborhoods when young, but no change or opposite-signed effects for children who made the same moves at an older age.
-The improvements in neighborhood environments for the younger MTO children lead to better neighborhood and family environments for the next generation, the grandchildren of the original MTO parents.

Offering low-income families housing vouchers and assistance in moving to lower-poverty neighborhoods has substantial benefits for the families themselves and for taxpayers. Efforts to integrate disadvantaged families into mixed-income communities are likely to reduce the persistence of poverty across generations.

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