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The Effects of Housing Assistance on Labor Supply: Evidence from a Voucher Lottery

Authors:
Brian A. Jacob, University of Michigan
Publication Date:
Jan 2012
Published In:
Project Programs:
Future of Work

This study estimates the effects of means-tested housing programs on labor supply using data from a randomized housing voucher wait-list lottery in Chicago. Economic theory is ambiguous about the expected sign of any labor supply response. We find that among working-age, able-bodied adults, housing voucher use reduces labor force participation by around 4 percentage points (6 percent) and quarterly earnings by $329 (10 percent), and increases Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program participation by around 2 percentage points (15 percent). We find no evidence that the housing-specific mechanisms hypothesized to promote work, such as neighborhood quality or residential stability, are important empirically. (JEL I38, J22, R23, R38)

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