I was a poor kid who grew up in a wealthy suburb of New Jersey, so when I heard this piece on NPR this morning it struck a personal note. The Harvard economist's findings reinforce the importance of creating affordable housing for families in our suburban, low-poverty communities. Communities that have adopted the MA Community Preservation Act have a greater opportunity to create affordable homes for low-income families through local initiatives and housing assistance programs. As I focus today on writing the first chapter of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership's new "CPA & Affordable Housing" guidebook, the findings of these studies will be on my mind.
In two new studies, Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues found that where poor kids grow up has a huge effect on how much money they earn as adults.
In one study, families living in public housing were randomly selected to be eligible for housing vouchers that required them to move to low poverty neighborhoods. Kids whose families received the vouchers grew up to earn significantly more than those whose families remained in public housing.
In a second study, Chetty and his colleagues looked at data for millions of families who moved from one county to another. Based on this data, they were able to estimate how much where poor kids grow up affects their income as adults.