Neighborhood Disorder and Individual Economic Self-Sufficiency: New Evidence from a Quasi-Experimental Study

Rebecca Casciano, Princeton University
Douglas S. Massey, Princeton University

This paper draws on data from the Monitoring Mt. Laurel Study, a new survey-based study that enables us to compare residents living in an affordable housing project in a middle-class New Jersey suburb to a comparable group of non-residents. We test the hypothesis that living in this housing project improves a poor person’s economic prospects relative to what they would have experienced in the absence of such housing, and that these improved prospects can be explained at least in part by a set of mediating variables. We find that residents of the project are significantly more likely to be working for pay, have higher income, and have a greater share of their total income come from earnings. These improved outcomes are explained in part by lower exposure to stressful life events, ease of getting around town, and in the case of earnings, having reliable access to a vehicle.

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Presented in Session 84: Neighborhood Effects and Neighborhood Change