Neighborhood Poverty and Quality in the Moving to Opportunity Experiment
Researchers suspect that some of the disparities that exist in such outcomes as health, employment, and education might be attributable to inequality of opportunity as determined by neighborhood environments. We study census data to identify neighborhood characteristics in addition to poverty that might help to explain these disparities. We focus on the Moving to Opportunity housing-relocation experiment and show that because program participants typically moved from one predominately black neighborhood to another, their new low-poverty neighborhoods may have provided little to no change in ...
Which Poor Neighborhoods Experienced Income Growth in Recent Decades?
Why has average income grown in some poor neighborhoods over the past 30 years and not in others? We explore that question and find that low-income neighborhoods that experienced large improvements in income over the past three decades tended to be located in large, densely populated metro areas that grew in income and population. Residential sorting?changes in population and demographics within neighborhoods?could help to explain this relationship
The concentration of poverty within metropolitan areas
Not only has poverty recently increased in the United States, it has also become more concentrated. This Commentary documents changes in the concentration of poverty in metropolitan areas over the last decade. The analysis shows that the concentration of poverty tends to be highest in northern cities, and that wherever overall poverty or unemployment rates went up the most over the course of the decade, the concentration of poverty tended to increase there as well.
The growing difference in college attainment between women and men
Workers with more education typically earn more than those with less education, and the difference has been growing in recent decades. Not surprisingly, the percentage of the population going after and getting a college degree has been rising as well. Since the late 1970s, though, the increase in college attainment has stalled for men and gathered steam for women. Among college-age individuals, more women now graduate than men. Changes in labor market incentives appear to explain the increased investment in education made by women. But men?s investments in education have been much less ...
The Consequences of Exposure to Violence during Early Childhood
We investigate the impact that exposure to violence in childhood has on an individual?s propensity to engage in risky behaviors later in life and their probability of dying young. We document that black young males in the United States are exposed to much more violence in early childhood than their white counterparts. We also show that exposure to violence has a strong relationship with a host of undesirable later outcomes, and that relationship tends to be the same regardless of race, household income, mother?s educational attainment, or family structure.
The Opioid Epidemic and the Labor Market
Drug overdoses now account for more deaths in the United States than traffic deaths or suicides, and most of the increase in overdose deaths since 2010 can be attributed to opioids--a class of drugs that includes both prescription pain relievers and illegal narcotics. We look at trends in drug use and overdose deaths to document how the opioid epidemic has evolved over time and to determine whether it could be large enough to impact the labor force.
Racial Inequality, Neighborhood Effects, and Moving to Opportunity
Moving to Opportunity (MTO) was a housing mobility program designed to investigate neighborhood effects, the influences of the social and physical environment on human development and well-being. Some of the results from MTO have been interpreted as evidence that neighborhood effects are not as strong as earlier evidence had indicated. This Commentary discusses new research suggesting that neighborhood effects are, on the contrary, as strong and policy relevant as suspected before the experiment. This Commentary also discusses why the interpretation of the MTO data is important: If ...
What Is Behind the Persistence of the Racial Wealth Gap?
Most studies of the persistent gap in wealth between whites and blacks have investigated the large gap in income earned by the two groups. Those studies generally concluded that the wealth gap was ?too big? to be explained by differences in income. We study the issue using a different approach, capturing the dynamics of wealth accumulation over time. We find that the income gap is the primary driver behind the wealth gap and that it is large enough to explain the persistent difference in wealth accumulation. The key policy implication of our work is that policies designed to speed the closing ...
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 ...
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 ...