Assessing the Evidence on Neighborhood Effects from Moving to Opportunity

52 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2011

See all articles by Dionissi Aliprantis

Dionissi Aliprantis

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 12, 2011


This paper presents a new perspective on results from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) housing mobility program. Building on recent developments in the program evaluation literature, this paper defines several treatment effect parameters and then estimates and interprets these parameters using data from MTO. The evaluation framework is used to make a clear distinction between the interpretation of Intent to Treat (ITT) and Treatment on the Treated (TOT) parameters as program effects and Local Average Treatment Effect (LATE) parameters as neighborhood effects. This distinction helps to clarify that results from MTO are only informative about a small subset of neighborhood effects of interest. Tests for instrument strength show that MTO induced large changes in neighborhood poverty rates. However, it is also shown that MTO induced remarkably little variation in many of the other neighborhood and school characteristics believed to influence outcomes and that much of this variation was confined to the tails of these characteristics' national distributions. Consistent with prevailing theories of neighborhood effects, labor market and health outcomes improved when households moved to neighborhoods with characteristics at or above the national median. The evidence suggests housing mobility programs designed to induce moves to neighborhoods with characteristics in addition to or in lieu of low poverty might induce larger effects than MTO, and results point to the investigation of heterogeneity in program effects from MTO as a fruitful direction for future research.

Keywords: Moving to Opportunity (MTO), Local Average Treatment Effect (LATE), Treatment-on-the-Treated (TOT), Housing Mobility Program, Neighborhood Effect, Concentrated Poverty, Segregation, Social Experiment

JEL Classification: C30, H50, I38, J10, R00

Suggested Citation

Aliprantis, Dionissi, Assessing the Evidence on Neighborhood Effects from Moving to Opportunity (September 12, 2011). FRB of Cleveland Working Paper No. 11-22, Available at SSRN: or

Dionissi Aliprantis (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland ( email )

East 6th & Superior
Cleveland, OH 44101-1387
United States

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