The Effect of Housing Assistance on Student Achievement: Evidence from Wisconsin

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 19/17

Date: July 2017


Deven Carlson
Robert Haveman
Sohyun Kang
Hannah Miller
Alex Schmidt
Barbara Wolfe


Drawing on a unique data set that links information on all Wisconsin households receiving means-tested benefits with the educational performance of all Wisconsin public school students in these households, we estimate the effect of a family’s initial receipt of housing assistance on students’ subsequent achievement outcomes. We estimate these effects using two different comparison groups. Our first comparison group consists of children living in households that receive housing assistance starting three years after our treatment group—we use observations from students’ pre-receipt years as the basis for the comparison. Our second comparison group consists of low-income students whose families never received housing assistance, but did receive other forms of means-tested benefits, such as SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid. The results of our analyses suggest small positive effects of housing benefit receipt on student achievement. We discuss the implications for research and policy.

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