Research on the effects of federal housing assistance programs on children’s outcomes has produced mixed results. Although housing assistance programs provide a rare source of affordable and stable housing for low-income families, there remains concern that living in public housing developments increases children’s risk of poor health. This paper uses a unique survey-administrative linked dataset to examine the effect of living in public housing on children’s risk of health problems, including frequent diarrhea, headaches, skin allergies, asthma, and fair/poor health status. Children living in public housing have more health problems than children who do not live in public housing. However, the analysis develops several comparison groups to demonstrate that the excess health problems reflect unobserved selection into public housing. The main selection adjustment compares children living in public housing to children who enter public housing in the near future. Results indicate that public housing does not increase the risk of child health problems, and it is important to consider selection into public housing on factors that are correlated with health. The effects of public housing may be mixed, but policymakers should not confuse the economic and health challenges of public housing residents for the effects of the program itself.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Urban Studies
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law