- Deven Carlson, Robert Haveman, Tom Kaplan, and Barbara Wolfe
- April 2009
- Link to dp136309 (PDF)
The federal Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program provides eligible low-income families with an income-conditioned voucher that pays for a portion of rental costs in privately owned, affordable housing units. This paper extends prior research on the effectiveness of rental support programs in several ways. The analysis employs a unique longitudinal dataset created by combining administrative records maintained by the State of Wisconsin with census block group data. We use a propensity score matching approach coupled with difference-in-differences regression analysis to estimate the effect of housing voucher receipt on the employment and earnings of voucher recipients; we track these effects for five years following voucher receipt. Our results indicate that voucher receipt has a generally positive effect on employment, but a negative impact on earnings. The negative earnings effect is largest in the years following initial receipt of the rental voucher, and dissipates over time. We find that the pattern of recipient labor market responses to voucher receipt differs substantially among demographic subgroups. In addition to our overall results, we present sensitivity results involving alternative estimation methods, as well as distinctions between those who receive transitory voucher support and those who are long-term recipients.