Research on effects of living in voucher-assisted and public housing to date has largely focused on short-term outcomes and data limitations and challenges of identification have been an obstacle to conclusive results. In contrast, this paper assesses effects of children’s housing on their later employment and earnings, uses national longitudinal data, and makes use of within-household variation to mitigate selection issues. We combine several national datasets on housing assistance, teenagers and their households, and the subsequent earnings and employment outcomes, such that we are able to follow1.8 million children aged 13-18 in 2000 in over 800,000 households within many different assisted and unassisted housing settings, controlling for neighborhood conditions, and examine their labor market outcomes for the 2008-2010 period.
By focusing on within-family variation in subsidy treatment, we remove a substantial source of unobserved heterogeneity affecting both a child’s selection into housing and their later outcomes. OLS estimates show a substantial negative effect of housing subsidies on earnings and employment outcomes. However, using within-household variation to control for selection issues attenuates these effects, and results in positive effects for some demographic groups. The large sample size allows us to study to what extent results vary by gender and race/ethnicity, and we find strong evidence of heterogeneous effects. Children in Black households who have lived in voucher-supported housing and public housing often benefit in terms of positive subsequent economic outcomes. Girls raised in Black households derive a considerable positive effect on later earnings from having lived in voucher-supported housing, and a somewhat lesser effect from having lived in public housing. Boys raised in Black households fare relatively worse than girls; in contrast, girls in White households tend to have relatively worse outcomes than boys. (author abstract)