Effects of Child Health on Housing in the Urban U.S.

Publication Year


Journal Article

This study exploits an exogenous health shock—the birth of a child with a severe health condition that is considered by the medical community to be random—to investigate the effect of that shock on the family's housing situation. We use population-based data from an urban birth cohort study in the U.S. that oversampled non-marital births, resulting in a relatively disadvantaged sample that may be particularly susceptible to the effects of adverse life events. The health conditions were recorded in the infants' hospital medical records and coded by a pediatric consultant to capture conditions that are considered both severe and random. Seven different housing outcomes in the domains of quality, crowding, and stability were assessed from maternal interviews and in-home assessments when the children were 3 years old. We found that poor child health increases the likelihood of both overcrowding and homelessness and that it may also increase the likelihood of having inadequate utilities and generally poor housing quality. The effect sizes ranged from 1 to 17 percentage points, depending on the measure of poor child health and housing outcome.

Social Science and Medicine