Are public housing projects good for kids?

Janet Currie, Aaron Yelowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


One goal of federal housing policy is to improve the prospects of children in poor families. This paper examines the effect of public housing participation on housing quality and educational attainment. Using the SIPP, we show that living in projects is associated with more negative outcomes for children, although this appears to be due to unobserved heterogeneity. We control for the endogeneity of project participation using TSIV techniques which combine information on project participation from the CPS with information on outcomes from the Census. We find that project households are less likely to suffer from overcrowding or live in high-density complexes. Project children are less likely to have been held back. Thus, our results run counter to the stereotype that housing projects harm children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-124
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Joshua Angrist, Caroline Minter Hoxby, Lawrence Katz, Jeffrey Kling, Edgar Olsen, Steve Pishke, James Poterba, two anonymous referees, coeditor Thomas Piketty, and seminar participants at Harvard, MIT, the NBER Summer Institute, RAND/UCLA, Michigan, Michigan State, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC San Diego for helpful comments. Janet Currie thanks the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the NICHD for support under grant #1R01 HD 31722.


  • Children
  • Education
  • H53
  • I18
  • Instrumental variables
  • J13
  • Public housing
  • R21
  • Welfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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