A Randomized Study of Neighborhood Effects on Low-Income Children's Educational Outcomes

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Abstract

Experimental data from the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration were used to examine (a) if moving from high- to low-poverty neighborhoods (via randomization) was associated with low-income minority children's achievement, grade retention, and suspensions/expulsions; (b) if moving minimized gender differences in these outcomes; and (c) potential mediators of observed program effects. Data on school-age children (mean age = 11.79 years, SD = 3.26) were obtained from standardized assessments and parent and adolescent interviews during the New York City site's 3-year follow-up evaluation (N = 588). Moving to low-poverty neighborhoods had positive effects on 11–18-year-old boys' achievement scores compared with those of their peers in high-poverty neighborhoods. These male adolescents' scores were comparable to females' scores, whereas male adolescents in high-poverty neighborhoods scored 10 points lower than female peers. Homework time and school safety partially accounted for program effects. From a policy perspective, the program benefited disadvantaged male adolescents at high risk for dropping out of school.

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