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Author:Aliprantis, Dionissi 

Working Paper
Assessing the Evidence on Neighborhood Effects from Moving to Opportunity

The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment randomly assigned housing vouchers that could be used in low-poverty neighborhoods. Consistent with the literature, I find that receiving an MTO voucher had no effect on outcomes like earnings, employment, and test scores. However, after studying the assumptions identifying neighborhood effects with MTO data, this paper reaches a very different interpretation of these results than found in the literature. I first specify a model in which the absence of effects from the MTO program implies an absence of neighborhood effects. I present theory and ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1506

Working Paper
Assessing the evidence on neighborhood effects from moving to opportunity

The interpretation of estimates from Moving to Opportunity (MTO) as neighborhood effects has created significant controversy among social scientists. This paper presents a framework that clarifies the interpretation of results from the MTO housing mobility experiment. The paper defines several neighborhood treatments and estimates their Local Average Treatment Effects (LATEs) using assigned treatment in MTO as an instrumental variable. This framework clarifies that while parameters estimated in the literature do not suffer from selection bias, selection into treatment is an inescapable issue ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1101

Working Paper
A distinction between causal effects in structural and rubin causal models

Structural Causal Models define causal effects in terms of a single Data Generating Process (DGP), and the Rubin Causal Model defines causal effects in terms of a model that can represent counterfactuals from many DGPs. Under these different definitions, notationally similar causal effects make distinct claims about the results of interventions to the system under investigation: Structural equations imply conditional independencies in the data that potential outcomes do not. One implication is that the DAG of a Rubin Causal Model is different from the DAG of a Structural Causal Model. Another ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1505

Working Paper
Evidence on the Production of Cognitive Achievement from Moving to Opportunity

This paper performs a subgroup analysis on the effect of receiving a Moving to Opportunity (MTO) housing voucher on test scores. I find evidence of heterogeneity by number of children in the household in Boston, gender in Chicago, and race/ethnicity in Los Angeles. To study the mechanisms driving voucher effect heterogeneity, I develop a generalized Rubin Causal Model and propose an estimator to identify transition-specific Local Average Treatment Effects (LATEs) of school and neighborhood quality. Although I cannot identify such LATEs with the MTO data, the analysis demonstrates that ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1707

Working Paper
Human capital in the inner city

Black males in the United States are exposed to tremendous violence at young ages: In the NLSY97 26 percent report seeing someone shot by age 12, and 43 percent by age 18. This paper studies how this exposure to violence and its associated social isolation affect education and labor market outcomes. I use Elijah Anderson?s ethnographic research on the ?code of the street? to guide the specification of a model of human capital accumulation that includes street capital, the skills and knowledge useful for providing personal security in neighborhoods where it is not provided by state ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1302

Working Paper
Covariates and causal effects: the problem of context

This paper is concerned with understanding how causal effects can be identified in past data and then used to predict the future in light of the problem of context, or the fact that treatment always influences the outcome variable in combination with covariates. Structuralist and experimentalist views of econometric methodology can be reconciled by adopting notation capable of distinguishing between effects independent of and dependent on context, or direct and net effects. By showing that identification of direct and net effects imposes distinct assumptions on selection into covariates ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1310

Working Paper
Can Wealth Explain Neighborhood Sorting by Race and Income?

Why do high-income blacks live in neighborhoods with characteristics similar to those of low-income whites? One plausible explanation is wealth, since homeownership requires some wealth, and black households hold less wealth than white households at all levels of income. We present evidence against this hypothesis by showing that wealth does not predict sorting into neighborhood quality once race and income are taken into account. An alternative explanation is that the scarcity of high-quality black neighborhoods increases the cost of living in a high-quality neighborhood for black households ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1808

Working Paper
Differences of Opinions

This paper presents a generalization of the DeGroot learning rule in which social learning can lead to polarization, even for connected networks. I first develop a model of biased assimilation in which the utility an agent receives from past decisions depends on current beliefs when uncertainty is slow to resolve. I use this model to motivate key features of an agent?s optimization problem subject to scarce private information, which forces the agent to extrapolate using social information. Even when the agent extrapolates under ?scientific? assumptions and all individuals in the network ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1604

Working Paper
Community-based well maintenance in rural Haiti

The international community has pledged $11 billion to Haiti, a country where nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) provide nearly all public goods and services. This raises at least two questions: How can NGOs most effectively perform their own work, and how can NGOs integrate their programs into broader efforts organized by public institutions? This paper addresses these questions by evaluating the community-based model of Haiti Outreach (HO) that focuses on training communities to manage wells after they have been constructed. The effect of this management training is identified by ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1201

Working Paper
Redshirting, compulsory schooling laws, and educational attainment

A wide literature uses date of birth as an instrument to study the causal effects of educational attainment. This paper shows how parents delaying their children?s initial enrollment in kindergarten, a practice known as redshirting, can make estimates obtained through this identification framework all but impossible to interpret. A latent index model is used to illustrate how the monotonicity assumption in this framework is violated if redshirting decisions are made in a setting of essential heterogeneity. Empirical evidence is presented from the ECLS-K data set that favors this scenario; ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1012

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