Anti-Poverty Program Found to Yield Few Academic Gains
Ten to 15 years after leaving neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, children of the Moving to Opportunity program are in most ways no better off than their peers who stayed put. But new findings from the ongoing study of their urban communities suggest more comprehensive school-neighborhood improvement initiatives stand a better chance of breaking the cycle of poverty.
The latest studies on the research project, which were presented at the annual conference of the American Economic Association here, find that removing children from concentrated poverty boosts their parents' sense of well-being, but by itself doesn't increase children's reading or mathematics achievement or the likelihood that they will be on track to graduate from high school or be employed as adults. Even children who moved before age 6 , considered a critical period for brain development, showed no academic benefits from moving to higher-income neighborhoods.
"The federal government spends billions every year trying to mix people up" through housing vouchers and other programs, said Janet M. Currie, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey and the director of its Center for Health and Well-Being. Yet, she added, "there's this incredibly persistent sense that there is still little opportunity for people in low-income neighborhoods, leading to the cycles of poverty." Ms. Currie, who was not involved in Moving to Opportunity, commented on the studies presented at the conference, all of which drew on data...
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