Life Shocks and Homelessness

47 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2011 Last revised: 24 Jun 2021

See all articles by Marah A. Curtis

Marah A. Curtis

Boston University

Hope Corman

Rider University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Kelly Noonan

Rider University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nancy E. Reichman

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Date Written: February 2011

Abstract

We exploit an exogenous health shock--the birth of a child with a severe health condition--to investigate the causal effect of a life shock on homelessness. Using survey data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study that have been augmented with information from hospital medical records, we find that the health shock increases the likelihood of homelessness three years later, particularly in cities with high housing costs. Homelessness is defined using both a traditional measure and a more contemporary measure that includes residential instability and doubling up without paying rent. The findings are consistent with the economic theory of homelessness, which posits that homelessness results from a conjunction of adverse circumstances in which housing markets and individual characteristics collide. They also add to a growing body of evidence that housing markets are an important contributor to homelessness and suggest that homelessness is a problem not easily addressed by existing public support programs.

Suggested Citation

Curtis, Marah A. and Corman, Hope and Noonan, Kelly and Reichman, Nancy E., Life Shocks and Homelessness (February 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w16826, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1770380

Marah A. Curtis (Contact Author)

Boston University ( email )

United States
617-353-5371 (Phone)
617-353-5612 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.bu.edu/ssw/about/facultystaff/faculty/profiles/curtis/index.shtml

Hope Corman

Rider University ( email )

2083 Lawrenceville Road
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
United States
609-895-5559 (Phone)
609-896-5304 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Kelly Noonan

Rider University ( email )

2083 Lawrenceville Road
Lawrenceville Township, NJ 08648
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nancy E. Reichman

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School ( email )

97 Paterson Street
Room 435
New Brunswick, NJ 08903
United States

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