Moving Opportunities: The Impact of Public Housing Regenerations on Student Achievement

    Research output: Working paper


    Neighborhoods can have a considerable impact on children's future outcomes, but the mechanisms through which they operate are not well understood yet. I use public housing regenerations as a natural experiment that changes the composition of more deprived neighborhoods. In London, many public housing buildings have been demolished in the past two decades to pave the way for new developments with higher housing density, giving home to about 160,000 people. These regenerations caused little displacement for the students living in the buildings slated for demolition, and the new developments were targeted mostly by more affluent households. I have constructed a novel database by geocoding all regenerations in Greater London and linking them to administrative records on primary school-age students. I compare the achievement of students in schools of similar neighborhoods but located at different distances from the regeneration before and after its completion, and use a grandfathering instrument to estimate the impact on students who were already in a school close to a regeneration before its completion ('incumbents'). I find that incumbent students exhibit higher test scores in math and language at the end of primary school after the regeneration, with stronger gains for more disadvantaged and low-ability students. The empirical evidence suggests that such gains are driven by changes in the demand for schools due to the inflow of more affluent parents with strong preferences for school quality.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherSchool of Economics and Finance WP 907, Queen Mary University of London
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


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