Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title US Public Housing Access and Family Structure: 1950 and 1970
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL http://home.wlu.edu/~gusej/econ398/articles/shesterAllen2014.pdf
Between 1950 and 1970 the number of public housing units in the United States grew
nearly six fold, expanding the housing opportunities for low income families. During this same
period, the U.S. experienced the beginning of a dramatic change in family structure, as the
percentage of births to unwed women and the percentage of female-headed households began to
increase rapidly. We use available individual-level data to explore and quantify possible
connections between this increased access to public housing and family structure decisions made
by young women in this era. We use linear probability and probit models to assess whether
young women living near higher concentrations of public housing were more or less likely to get
married, have children, or have children out of wedlock. Our results suggest a positive and
statistically significant association between public housing access and the probability that young
non-black women chose to marry. This is consistent with public housing lowering the cost of
household formation and marriage. We find no evidence that public housing is correlated with
higher rates of single motherhood. Greater access to public housing does not tend to increase
rates of marriage or motherhood for young black women.

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