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Do Neighborhoods Matter for Disadvantaged Families? Long-Term Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment

Speaker  Larry Katz

Affiliation  Harvard

Host  Markus Mobius

Duration  01:23:15

Date recorded  21 May 2014

We examine long-term neighborhood effects on low-income families using data from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized housing-mobility experiment, which offered some public-housing families but not others the chance to move to less-disadvantaged neighborhoods. MTO succeed in moving families to lower-poverty and safer residential neighborhoods, but MTO moves did not substantially improve the quality of schools attended by the children. We show that 10-15 years after baseline, MTO improves adult physical and mental health, has no detectable effect on economic outcomes or youth schooling or physical health, and mixed results by gender on other youth outcomes, with girls doing better on some measures and boys doing worse. Despite the somewhat mixed pattern of impacts on traditional behavioral outcomes, MTO moves substantially improve adult subjective well-being. And when opportunities to move with housing vouchers lead to better schools for the children, such moves do have long-run positive impacts on youth education and reduce youth risky behaviors.

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