Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

"Moving to Opportunity": Does It Truly Help Families?

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

"Moving to Opportunity": Does It Truly Help Families?

Article excerpt

Do families that move to a more affluent area improve family members' life chances, or does increased competition from, and perhaps discrimination by, their more advantaged neighbors work to depress their well-being? In a recent study titled "Long-term neighborhood effects on low-income families: evidence from moving to opportunity" (National Bureau of Economic Research, working paper no. 18772, February 2013, http://www.nber.org/papers/w18772.pdf?new_window=1), authors Jens Ludwig, Greg J. Duncan, Lisa A. Gennetian, Lawrence F. Katz, Ronald C. Kessler, Jeffrey R. Kling, and Lisa Sanbonmatsu show that moves from higher poverty to lower poverty neighborhoods have a positive effect on adult physical and mental health and subjective well-being.

Using data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized housing-mobility experiment, the authors reveal some of the long-term positive effects of moves of socioeconomically depressed families to more affluent neighborhoods. This kind of research has become increasingly important given the persistence of residential income segregation and the rise of income inequality in America. The authors note that policymakers, if provided with a clearer understanding of neighborhood effects on life chances, are better equipped to evaluate policies concerning residential segregation as well as the efficiency of private market housing outcomes. …

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