Assisted Housing and Intergenerational Income Transmission: Exploring the Geography of Unequal Opportunity

Deirdre Bloome, University of Michigan
Ann Owens, University of Southern California

Identifying barriers to intergenerational income mobility is critical to understanding stratification and opportunity in the US. One debate questions whether government assistance promotes or hampers economic mobility. We examine how the prevalence of government assisted housing where an individual grows up shapes his income mobility prospects, using HUD and IRS data. Preliminary results indicate that individuals from places with high levels of assisted housing relative to need experience relatively low rates of upward income mobility. This relationship, robust to geographic fixed effects and local covariates, indicates that children born to low-income parents are more likely to remain low income as young adults if they grow up in areas heavily reliant on assisted housing. However, this association only holds in highly racially segregated areas, and it is stronger for project-based assisted housing than voucher-based. Assisted housing's influence on children's upward economic mobility appears contingent upon how housing shapes the local environment.

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Presented in Session 83: Family structure, Social Networks, and Inequality of Opportunity