Housing Vouchers, Income Shocks, and Crime: Evidence from a Lottery
50 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2017
Date Written: May 5, 2017
The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) is the largest federal housing assistance program; it provides in-kind transfers in the form of rent vouchers to low-income populations. This paper examines the effect of such voucher receipt on criminal activity. To overcome bias due to selection into the program, we exploit the exogenous variation in lottery-assigned wait-list positions in order to identify the causal effects of the vouchers. Using administrative arrest records, we find voucher receipt has no effect on the likelihood of all arrests, and arrests for drug and financially motivated crimes, but increases the probability of violent crime arrests.
Keywords: Housing Vouchers, Section 8, Crime, Neighborhood Effects, Income Shocks
JEL Classification: I38, K42, R23
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