Housing and Healthy Child Development

The researchers are testing whether assisted housing affects children's healthy development by reducing family housing cost burden and/or improving their housing and neighborhood conditions. A nationally representative sample of children ages 0-12 in 1997 who lived in assisted housing are followed into adulthood and their outcomes are compared to those of a comparison group of children who were eligible for but did not live in assisted housing. The researchers are examining differences in three aspects of healthy development — cognitive development, social-emotional development, and several dimensions of health such as psychological distress. Findings generated from this study will inform policies that affect the supply of affordable housing.


  Measure Source
Child/Youth (age ≤17)    
Cognitive development Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement: CDS
  • Letter-Word
  • Passage Comprehension
  • Applied Problems
  • Broad Reading
  • Combined Cognitive
Socioemotional Behavior Problem Index (BPI): CDS
  • Total
  • Internalizing
  • Externalizing
  • Parent/self-reported health
  • Chronic conditions
  • Activity limitations
  • ACEs
  • Neither in school nor working
Young Adults:    
  • self-assessment of overall health
  • presence of chronic conditions: asthma, diabetes, hypertension
  • activity limitation
Psychological distress
  • Kessler psychological distress scale
  • Neither working nor in school



The researchers are using three main data sources from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (Assisted Housing Database, Child Development Supplement, and Transition to Adulthood Supplement) to simulate an experiment to create quasi-treatment and control groups of children who lived in assisted housing at some point before age 18 and comparable children who never lived in assisted housing although their families were income eligible to receive it. Instrumental variables and inverse probability of treatment weighting are used to support causal inference.

A smiling little girl holding a teddy bear while parents move boxes
Grantee and Partner organizations

Johns Hopkins University

Grant status
In Progress
Principal investigators
Sandra Newman, PhD, MUP
Charles Scott Holupka, PhD
Start date
Award amount
30 months

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