Can Housing Assistance Reduce Inequality Among Youth?

Does federally assisted housing lead to better outcomes for low-income youth by making housing more affordable for their parents?

Prior research shows that living in affordable private market housing imparts benefits to children’s cognitive skills because parents have more to spend on children’s necessities and enrichment activities. If it is housing affordability that improves youth outcomes, then families living in assisted housing provided by the federal government should experience the same benefits. This study will be the first to use a nationally representative sample to examine whether housing assistance improves children’s individual outcomes by reducing families’ housing cost burden. The PIs will also examine whether children and youth living in assisted housing have better outcomes because they get to live in neighborhoods with more resources. The team will further examine the outcomes of children whose families do not receive assisted housing even though they meet the income eligibility criteria. Outcomes will be diverse, ranging from youth’s cognitive skills to later incomes. The findings will demonstrate how assisted housing policy can be used to reduce inequalities among youth and young adults. The team will draw on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the PSID’s Child Development Supplement (CDS), and the PSID-Assisted Housing Database (PSID-AHD).

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