NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Childhood Housing and Adult Earnings: A Between-Siblings Analysis of Housing Vouchers and Public Housing

Fredrik Andersson, John C. Haltiwanger, Mark J. Kutzbach, Giordano E. Palloni, Henry O. Pollakowski, Daniel H. Weinberg

NBER Working Paper No. 22721
Issued in October 2016
NBER Program(s):Children, Labor Studies

To date, research on the long-term effects of childhood participation in voucher-assisted and public housing has been limited by the lack of data and suitable identification strategies. We create a national-level longitudinal data set that enables us to analyze how children’s housing experiences affect adult earnings and incarceration rates. While naive estimates suggest there are substantial negative consequences to childhood participation in voucher-assisted and public housing, this result appears to be driven largely by selection of households into housing assistance programs. To mitigate this source of bias, we employ household fixed-effects specifications that use only within-household (across-sibling) variation for identification. Compared to naive specifications, household fixed-effects estimates for earnings are universally more positive, and they suggest that there are positive and statistically significant benefits from childhood residence in assisted housing on young adult earnings for nearly all demographic groups. Childhood participation in assisted housing also reduces the likelihood of incarceration across all household race/ethnicity groups. Time spent in voucher-assisted or public housing is especially beneficial for females from non-Hispanic Black households, who experience substantial increases in expected earnings and lower incarceration rates.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22721

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