Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment
The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration assigned housing vouchers via random lottery to public housing residents in five cities. We use the exogenous variation in residential locations generated by MTO to estimate neighborhood effects on youth crime and delinquency. The offer to relocate to lower-poverty areas reduces arrests among female youth for violent and property crimes, relative to a control group. For males the offer to relocate reduces arrests for violent crime, at least in the short run, but increases problem behaviors and property crime arrests. The gender difference in treatment effects seems to reflect differences in how male and female youths from disadvantaged backgrounds adapt and respond to similar new neighborhood environments.
Published: Revised and published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics 120:1 (February 2005), 87-130.