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Apr 20 2023

PSID Seminar: Childhood Housing Insecurity, Residential Mobility, and Racial-Ethnic Inequality in the United States

Warren Lowell, Doctoral Student, Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy

Thursday, April 20, 2023
11:00 – 12:00pm

Join via Zoom:

Frequent and reactive residential moves are emblematic of housing insecurity and pose potential harms to child development. While scholars have developed a variety of other measures meant to represent housing insecurity, the association between these measures and residential mobility is untested. I use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to measure cumulative exposure to three conventional housing insecurity measures (cost burden, overcrowding, and doubling up) across formative primary and secondary education years for children ages 4-17, by race-ethnicity. I then use restricted-access housing histories from the PSID to test how these measures are associated with the probability of mobility outcomes including frequent or reactive moves. I find that Black children experience twice as many residential moves as their White or Hispanic peers on average, and nearly half of all Hispanic children were exposed to housing conditions considered severely overcrowded by HUD standards. Results from individual-fixed effects models suggest that experiencing insecurity did not increase the probability that a family experienced a residential move in the following wave, except for severe overcrowding. Findings from additional models show that overcrowding and doubling up reduce the probability of subsequent reactive moves, and overcrowded housing can lead to bouts of high mobility for Black children in renting households. These findings suggest that overcrowding and doubling up (as they are conventionally measured) are not uniformly insecure housing situations, suggesting potential adjustments to how we conceptualize and measure insecurity.