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oÉëÉ~êÅÜ=êÉéçêí Overview of the Current State of Knowledge
oÉëÉ~êÅÜ=êÉéçêí
Overview of the Current State of Knowledge
on Societal Outcomes of Housing
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Canada Mortgage And Housing Corporation
Overview Of The Current State Of
Knowledge On Societal Outcomes Of
Housing
Draft Phase II
Research Report
Assessing the Societal Outcomes of
Housing in Canada: Avenues for Future
Research
SHS Consulting
June 2009
This study was funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
The contents, views and editorial quality of this report are the responsibility of the
authors and CMHC accepts no responsibility for them or any consequences
arising from the reader’s use of the information, materials and techniques
described herein.
This report is provided for general information purposes only. Any reliance or
action taken based on the information provided is the responsibility of the user.
Readers are advised to consult appropriate professional resources to determine
what is suitable in their particular case. CMHC assumes no responsibility for any
consequences arising from use of the information provided in the report.
research highlight
January 2010
Socio-economic Series 10-001
Overview of the Current State of Knowledge
on Societal Outcomes of Housing
introduction
Current Conceptual Thinking
The objective of this research project was to assess the
current state of knowledge regarding linkages between
housing and broader societal outcomes, specifically
non-housing outcomes related to education, skills
development and employment.
The literature review included published research and
evaluations of programs that examined any combination
of education, skills development and employment-related
outcomes of housing. Many authors stressed that economic
and social development are driven by housing. Social
inclusion or exclusion, economic growth and job creation
are all linked to it—housing shapes individual well-being
and a broad range of social outcomes because it is closely
tied to the qualities of community and social space. Figure 1
illustrates the central role that housing plays in many aspects
of a person’s life.2
METHODOLOGY
A literature review was conducted to assess the
current state of knowledge, identify data gaps, examine
related methodological challenges and identify future
research challenges. The research aimed to address
the following questions:
n
n
n
What is the current conceptual thinking on how housing
affects societal outcomes related to education, skills
development and employment? How can these be
measured and what challenges exist?
What perspectives exist regarding vulnerable groups with
distinct housing needs?1
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the various
methodological approaches used to identify, quantify
and attribute societal outcomes?
One of the key impacts of housing is on health outcomes
and well-being, a linkage that has received more attention
than perhaps any other. It has been a sub-category of the
growing body of work on social inequalities and health.
The work done in this area has shown evidence that
highlights the positive outcomes that stable housing helps
to achieve on the health of individuals.3 Other linkages have
also been explored, more specifically the impact that the
quality of neighbourhoods can have on non-housing
outcomes such as education and employment. Authors have
identified geographies of opportunity that can impact the
possibilities for residents living in different neighbourhoods.
1
Aboriginal people, seniors, persons with disabilities, youth and children, homeless populations, single-parent households, and recent immigrants
and refugees.
2
Carter, Tom and Chesya Polevychok (2004). Housing is Good Social Policy. Canadian Policy Research Networks.
3
Examples of such research include: J.R. Dunn, 2000, Housing and Health Inequalities: Review and Prospects for Research; Dunn, 2002, Housing and
Inequalities in Health: A Study of Socioeconomic Dimensions of Housing and Self Reported Health from a Survey of Vancouver Residents; Wilkinson and
Marmot, 2003, Social Determinants of Health Second Edition: The Solid Facts; Health Canada, 2007, People, Place and Health; CMHC, 2003, Housing
Quality and Children’s Socio-emotional Health.
Research Highlight
Overview of the Current State of Knowledge on Societal Outcomes of Housing
HEALTH
CARE
EDUCATION
Enhancing
educational
attainment
Improving physical and
mental health
SOCIAL
DEVELOPMENT
Foundation of family
life and social
interaction
HOUSING
COMMUNITY
DEVELOPMENT
A stabilizing and
facilitating role
Skills development,
investment, capacity
building
INCOME
SECURITY
LABOUR
FORCE
IMMIGRATION
Enhancing income
security
Contributing to
stability and mobility
Facilitating
integration
Figure 1
Across a metropolitan region, residents will not have equal
opportunities, since employment markets and institutions
are not distributed equally across the region. Households
often locate in certain areas because of their socio-economic
status and are thereby limited to particular employment
markets and institutions. Such gaps in socio-economic
opportunities between and among neighbourhoods can
affect the possible opportunities for those living in a
neighbourhood to access both public and private resources.
Limitations of Existing Research
While many of the reviewed studies did find linkages
between housing and education, skills development and
employment, the review highlighted the fact that there was
often difficulty proving causality. This was partly due to the
difficulty of separating family characteristics from location.
Another issue that was often stressed, including by the
authors of the reviewed studies themselves, was the lack
of complete and current data, which can affect the validity
of the research.
2
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Although much has been written on housing and the links
it has, and can have, to other societal and environmental
elements, it is often difficult to determine the strengths and
weaknesses of these findings and arguments. One of the
goals of the literature review and the report was to evaluate
these strengths and weaknesses in order to guide further
research into the societal links of housing.
FINDINGS
Over 100 relevant research studies were examined in
conducting this review. Despite a general lack of rigour,
there is evidence that housing does have impacts on
education, skills development and employment. These
findings are not without their caveats, as various studies
often found that, for some factors, there was contradictory
evidence or simply not enough data or research to
conclusively assert a particular outcome. As part of the
review, gaps and related methodological challenges were
identified, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the
various studies. A summary table of the identified linkages
from these studies can be found below.
Research Highlight
Overview of the Current State of Knowledge on Societal Outcomes of Housing
Factors Related to Educational Outcomes
The stability of housing has been shown to give rise to
improvements in educational performance. Some studies
also found positive associations with tenure, with more
positive educational outcomes for homeowners, although
this is not conclusive in all cases, especially for lower-income
owner households. Most positive outcomes seem to stem
from the stability that housing offers, with positive
outcomes shown in this respect for both owner and renter
households. In Canada, a study by Curtis and Phipps
(2000) found better educational outcomes for children
living in owner-occupied housing; however, a key predictor
was found to be the hours of parental time available each
week for the children. This time spent with the children
significantly improved their successes in school.
Housing conditions, such as overcrowding and the quality
of the housing, are also associated with education outcomes.
Factors like noise, overcrowding and poor housing conditions
have been linked to poor educational achievement in
children. At the same time, while housing conditions do
appear to impact educational performance, much of the
current research seems to point to socio-economic status as
the predictive factor most related to educational outcomes.
Neighbourhood effects are perhaps the most intriguing,
as their boundaries are often subjective and can give rise
to complex social, economic, political and cultural
environments in which housing exists. Nevertheless,
a relationship has been documented in the literature
between children’s educational attainment and affluence,
both at the neighbourhood level and at the individual family
level. A Canadian study4 that examined neighbourhood
effects on children found that family differences seemed
to play a greater role than the quality of the environment.
Many authors, however, have cautioned about drawing
conclusions between neighbourhood characteristics and
family and individual characteristics. While these
relationships clearly exist, current findings cannot be
considered conclusive until further study is conducted
on these linkages.
Factors Relating to Skills Development and
Employment
Some literature found that disincentives to improving
employment earnings were inherent in housing programs
that require higher rents to be paid as earnings increase.
Positive outcomes, however, were highlighted in the
Jobs-Plus program5 from the United States, which provided
job placement and training assistance and enabled residents
to keep more of their earnings. Women in particular gained
from being involved in such combinations of housing and
employment/skills development programs.
Research also showed that social security recipients were
more likely to work if located closer to job opportunities.
However, socio-economic factors were also shown to
mitigate these findings, such as the ability to afford to
move to a “better” area with more jobs or the availability
and accessibility of means of transportation.
The literature review also identified a relationship between
housing stability and employment/skills development
outcomes, through the increased sense of security of
the household.
Tenure was not found to have a significant effect on
employment and skills development.
Vulnerable Groups
Although many of these findings concerned a range of
different people and groups, the study found a lack of
information regarding education, skills development and
employment outcomes for those groups deemed most
vulnerable (such as single-parent households, Aboriginal
people and homeless populations). Some research findings
did point to certain outcomes; for example, if women are
able to find secure, affordable housing, their capacity to
pursue educational and professional goals and their ability
to form supportive networks are enhanced. Generally,
however, the effects of housing on vulnerable groups are
not well documented.
4
Oreopoulos, Phillip (2003). The Long-Run Consequences of Living in a Poor Neighborhood, Quarterly Journal of Economics.
5
Bloom, H.S., Riccio, J.A., Verma, N. (2005). Promoting Work in Public Housing: The Effectiveness of Jobs-Plus.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
3
Research Highlight
Overview of the Current State of Knowledge on Societal Outcomes of Housing
Issues of Methodology
Regarding the impact of housing on education, skills
development and employment, the biggest issue that
affected the quality and strength of the findings in many
cases was that few of the studies used statistical or analytical
techniques. In some cases, where empirical methods were
used, the age of the data proved problematic. This lack of
reliable, accurate and timely data represents a challenge.
The most striking knowledge gaps that currently exist are
those in the data and information regarding the housing
and education, skills development and employment
outcomes for vulnerable groups. This represents a large gap
in Canadian housing research. In most cases, information
exists regarding the needs and the important role of housing
for these groups, but very little is available in terms of data
and analysis of the linkages themselves. More complete and
current knowledge documenting the impacts and outcomes
of housing for these individual groups would help strengthen
housing policies and programs in Canada for the future.
Some studies did use reliable techniques, most significantly
the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) and HOPE VI research
projects in the United States, which were based on
randomized control studies. Many studies were based on
other, non-experimental, empirical study methodologies,
such as longitudinal and cross-sectional. Other studies
involved a mixed-method type, blending literature reviews
and empirical analysis.
Table 1 summarizes the linkages between housing and
education, skills development and employment that were
identified in the literature.
Table 1 Summary of Identified Linkages6
Education
Neighbourhood affluence /
educational attainment
Family income / educational
attainment
Stability and transience
Tenure (owning versus
renting)
Housing conditions
(physical characteristics:
overcrowding, density,
physical condition
of dwelling, noise levels,
and so on).
Examples of Indicators Used
n
Neighbourhood affluence; home
ownership rates; residential stability/
instability; achievement scores;
literacy of parents; median family
income; availability of books in
household.
n
Social development; neighbourhood
affluence/poverty; family income;
parental education level;
neighbourhood family structure.
n
Family income; number of family
moves; number of times children
changed schools; tenure type;
condition of housing.
n
n
Success at school; family income;
labour force participation;
tenure; condition of home; civic
engagement.
Child education performance;
condition of housing; tenure; family
income; educational services.
6
Conclusions and Strength of Linkage
n
Some studies have found positive educational outcomes for students and children
related to neighbourhood affluence and level of neighbourhood education.
n
Neighbourhood affluence was noted as having a significant positive effect on
reducing dropout rates of female students.
n
Other studies point to little or no effect of neighbourhood affluence.
n
Overall, findings are inconclusive: many authors stress that individual and
family characteristics cannot be completely discounted, while others highlight
incomplete knowledge of these linkages.
n
Some studies have pointed to higher family educational attainment and income
as being associated with educational outcomes.
n
It was noted that improved educational outcomes arise from housing stability.
n
Number of moves can also affect likelihood of graduation and educational
performance.
n
Positive association with children’s educational attainment and homeownership
was indicated in several studies.
n
Some studies point to negative aspects, or lack of understanding, of
homeownership responsibilities and impacts for low-income households.
n
Strong evidence showed negative educational impacts from aspects such as
noisy homes, overcrowded dwellings, living in poor housing conditions and
homelessness.
n
Studies suggested also that good housing conditions are important for children’s
educational outcomes and can have effects (positive or negative) in other areas
such as health and employment.
See the consultant’s report for a full bibliography of the studies reviewed.
4
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Research Highlight
Overview of the Current State of Knowledge on Societal Outcomes of Housing
Employment and Skills
Development
Tenure (owning versus
renting)
Income and rent
Spatial inequalities
Neighbourhood affluence /
level of education
Stability
Examples of Indicators Used
n
Employment and education level.
n
Education level; skills level;
employment earnings.
n
n
n
Welfare receipt; neighbourhood
poverty rates; job accessibility as
jobs per job seeker.
Gender of household head; level of
education; parental earnings; sibling
income comparisons over time;
labour market engagement.
Rental type (private or public);
current employment status;
living arrangement; education
level; difficulty in paying rent;
factors affecting decisions about
employment; difficulties in finding
employment.
Conclusions and Strength of Linkage
n
There was a lack of evidence and research showing a clear relationship between
employment/skills development and tenure.
n
Tenure is more indicative of socio-economic status and employment status.
n
Research has found a relationship between income-related rent structures
and disincentives to work. Referred to as a “poverty trap” by some, the
income-related rent structures penalize tenants for working, especially in
lower-paying jobs.
n
n
Review of the Jobs-Plus program in the United States highlighted positive
outcomes for participants, especially strong outcomes for women who
participated in such endeavours.
Housing location can have exclusionary effects on employment: regions where
jobs are available can often be accompanied by high house prices, and housing
(notably public housing) located in areas of high unemployment can make it more
difficult for a person to access work.
n
Studies have highlighted that people are more apt to work if situated closer to
work opportunities.
n
n
A locational factor exists between housing and employment, but authors stress
that other factors should also be studied in future work, such as transportation
accessibility and concentration of poverty.
Studies have found few effects, either positive or negative, of high-poverty or
low-poverty neighbourhoods on labour or employment.
n
Research also points to outcomes being attributable to socio-economic status,
and not just moving to “better areas.”
n
n
Other factors were noted, such as mass transit accessibility and concentration
of poverty in a neighbourhood.
Studies have found positive effects (such as a better sense of security) of stable
housing for unemployed tenants, inferring better chances or outcomes in finding
employment.
n
Stability was also noted as having positive effects for women, facilitating support
networks and aiding in accessing the workforce.
n
Research notes that this sense of security is likely an important factor for
employment and skills development, through increased self-esteem and economic
stability.
n
More research on this issue would help validate findings in this regard.
CONCLUSIONS
Overall, the literature is fairly consistent in finding
that housing in itself is not the root cause of advantage
and disadvantage; rather, it is only one element in a set
of interrelated factors that determine the outcome.
Some authors contend that improvements in housing
are not enough to result in significant improvements in
non-housing outcomes. Others point out that, because
housing is so connected to the neighbourhood it is situated
in, it has a major impact on individual well-being on a
broad range of social outcomes.
For the individual or household, the evidence points to
the observation that, the greater the degree of affordability,
security of tenure, choice and quality of accommodation,7
the more positive the impact, that is, the more positive
the housing status, the greater the likelihood of positive
educational performance, skills development and
employment success.
7
Measured in terms of housing characteristics, such as overcrowding, age and state of repair.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
5
Research Highlight
Overview of the Current State of Knowledge on Societal Outcomes of Housing
CMHC Project Manager: Ed Nera
Consultant: Ed Starr, Principal, SHS Consulting
Housing Research at CMHC
Under Part IX of the National Housing Act, the Government
of Canada provides funds to CMHC to conduct research into
the social, economic and technical aspects of housing and related
fields, and to undertake the publishing and distribution of the
results of this research.
This fact sheet is one of a series intended to inform you of the
nature and scope of CMHC’s research.
To find more Research Highlights plus a wide variety of
information products, visit our website at www.cmhc.ca
or contact:
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
700 Montreal Road
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0P7
Phone:
Fax:
1-800-668-2642
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66751
©2009, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Printed in Canada
Produced by CMHC
11-01-10
Although this information product reflects housing experts’ current knowledge, it is provided for general information purposes only. Any reliance
or action taken based on the information, materials and techniques described are the responsibility of the user. Readers are advised to consult
appropriate professional resources to determine what is safe and suitable in their particular case. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
assumes no responsibility for any consequence arising from use of the information, materials and techniques described.
Le point en recherche
Janvier 2010
Série socio-économique 10-001
Aperçu de l’état actuel des connaissances sur les
retombées sociétales du logement
INTRODUCTION
Concepts actuels
Cette étude visait à évaluer l’état des connaissances sur les
liens entre le logement et les retombées sociétales générales,
en particulier les retombées autres que celles qui touchent le
logement, c’est-à-dire celles qui sont liées à la scolarisation,
au perfectionnement des compétences et à l’emploi.
Parmi les documents examinés figurent des études et des
évaluations publiées portant sur des programmes qui
analysent les différentes combinaisons de retombées du
logement liées à la scolarisation, au perfectionnement des
compétences et à l’emploi. De nombreux auteurs affirment
que le logement influe non seulement sur le développement
économique et social, mais aussi sur l’inclusion et l’exclusion
sociale, la croissance économique et la création d’emplois.
Le logement influe sur le bien-être des personnes et sur de
nombreuses retombées sociétales du fait qu’il est étroitement
lié à la qualité de vie qu’offrent la collectivité et l’espace
social. La figure 1 illustre la place centrale qu’occupe le
logement dans de nombreuses sphères de la vie d’une
personne2.
MÉTHODE
Un examen de la documentation a permis d’évaluer
l’état actuel des connaissances et de déterminer les lacunes
statistiques, les problèmes méthodologiques et les éventuels
défis en recherche. L’étude avait pour but de répondre aux
questions suivantes :
n
n
n
À l’heure actuelle, comment conceptualise t-on les
effets du logement sur les retombées sociétales liées à la
scolarisation, au perfectionnement des compétences et à
l’emploi? Comment évaluer l’ampleur de ces retombées
et savoir si des difficultés existent?
Quelles sont les perspectives des groupes vulnérables
dont les besoins en logement sont particuliers1?
Quels sont les avantages et les inconvénients des diverses
méthodes servant à déterminer, à quantifier et à qualifier
les retombées sociétales?
L’une des principales incidences du logement, et
certainement la plus étudiée de toutes, concerne le lien avec
la santé et le bien-être. Ce lien fait l’objet de plus en plus
d’études sur les inégalités sociales et la santé. Les résultats de
ces études montrent clairement les retombées positives d’un
logement stable sur la santé des gens3. D’autres liens ont
également été analysés, notamment l’effet de la qualité des
quartiers sur les retombées autres que celles qui touchent le
logement, comme les retombées liées à la scolarisation et à
l’emploi. Des auteurs ont trouvé des facteurs géographiques
1
Peuples autochtones, aînés, personnes handicapées, jeunes et enfants, sans-abri, familles monoparentales, nouveaux immigrants et réfugiés.
2
Tom Carter et Chesya Polevychok, Housing is Good Social Policy, Réseaux canadiens de recherche en politiques publiques, 2004.
3
Citons notamment les études suivantes : J. R. Dunn, Housing and Health Inequalities: Review and Prospects for Research, 2000; Dunn, Housing and
Inequalities in Health: A Study of Socioeconomic Dimensions of Housing and Self Reported Health from a Survey of Vancouver Residents, 2002; Wilkinson et
Marmot, Social Determinants of Health Second Edition: The Solid Facts, 2003; Santé Canada, Les gens, les lieux, la santé, 2007; SCHL, La qualité du
logement et la santé socioémotionnelle des enfants, 2003.
AU CŒUR DE L’HABITATION
Le Point en recherche
Aperçu de l’état actuel des connaissances sur les retombées sociétales du logement
SOINS DE
SANTÉ
SCOLARITÉ
Augmentation du
niveau de scolarité
Amélioration de la santé
physique et mentale
DÉVELOPPEMENT
SOCIAL
LOGEMENT
Fondement de la
famille et des
interactions sociales
Effet stabilisateur et
facilitant
SÉCURITÉ DU
REVENU
MAIN D’ŒUVRE
Amélioration de la
sécurité du revenu
DÉVELOPPEMENT
COMMUNAUTAIRE
Perfectionnement des
compétences, investissement,
développement du potentiel
IMMIGRATION
Élément de stabilité
et de mobilité
Facteur
d’intégration
Figure 1
qui peuvent influer sur les occasions qui s’offrent aux
habitants de différents quartiers. Par exemple, les habitants
d’une même région métropolitaine n’ont pas tous des
chances égales d’accéder à l’emploi, car les marchés du
travail et les entreprises ne sont pas répartis uniformément
dans la région. Les ménages choisissent souvent leur lieu de
résidence en fonction de leur situation socio-économique,
ce qui les limite à certains marchés de l’emploi et à certaines
institutions professionnelles. De tels écarts sur le plan des
possibilités économiques au sein d’un même quartier ou
entre quartiers peuvent empêcher les habitants d’avoir accès
aux ressources publiques comme privées.
Limite des études réalisées à ce jour
Bien que plusieurs des études révèlent l’existence de
liens entre le logement, d’une part, et la scolarisation,
le perfectionnement des compétences et l’emploi, d’autre
part, notre examen de ces études fait ressortir le fait que les
liens de cause à effet sont souvent difficiles à démontrer.
Ce problème résulte en partie de la difficulté de séparer les
caractéristiques familiales du lieu de résidence. L’absence de
données exhaustives et à jour est un autre problème souvent
relevé, y compris par les auteurs des études examinées, et
mine la validité de la recherche.
2
Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement
Malgré tout ce qui s’est écrit sur les liens réels et potentiels
entre le logement et d’autres aspects sociétaux et
environnementaux, il demeure souvent difficile de
déterminer quels sont les points forts et les points faibles
des constatations et de l’argumentation. L’un des objectifs
de l’examen de la documentation et du rapport qui en a
résulté était d’évaluer ces forces et ces faiblesses pour orienter
d’autres études sur les retombées sociétales du logement.
CONstatations
Plus de 100 études pertinentes ont été examinées.
Malgré un manque de rigueur répandu, il semble que
les effets du logement sur la scolarité, le perfectionnement
des compétences et l’emploi soient réels. Il faut toutefois
prendre ces constatations avec des pincettes. En effet, des
études ont souvent révélé que, pour certains facteurs, les faits
étaient contradictoires ou que les données ou les recherches
étaient tout simplement insuffisantes pour pouvoir tirer
des conclusions précises quant aux retombées. L’examen
a néanmoins permis de cerner les lacunes et les problèmes
méthodologiques, de même que les points forts et les points
faibles des diverses études. On trouvera ci-dessous un
tableau résumant les liens établis dans le cadre de ces études.
Le Point en recherche
Aperçu de l’état actuel des connaissances sur les retombées sociétales du logement
Facteurs liés à la scolarité
Il est prouvé que la stabilité du logement contribue à
améliorer les résultats scolaires. Selon certaines études,
le mode d’occupation a également des retombées favorables
sur les résultats scolaires, surtout pour les propriétaires.
Cette observation n’est cependant pas concluante dans
tous les cas, notamment dans celui des propriétaires à faible
revenu. Les meilleures retombées semblent découler de la
stabilité qu’offre le logement, tant pour les propriétaires
que pour les locataires. Au Canada, une étude de Curtis et
Phipps (2000) indique que le fait pour un enfant d’habiter
dans un logement occupé par son propriétaire crée de
meilleures retombées sur le plan scolaire. Cependant,
le nombre d’heures que consacrent hebdomadairement
les parents aux enfants semble être une bonne variable
explicative puisque cela améliore significativement
la réussite scolaire des enfants.
Les conditions de logement, comme le nombre d’occupants
et la qualité du logement, influent également sur le
rendement scolaire. Des facteurs tels que le bruit, le
surpeuplement et les mauvaises conditions de logement
sont liés à de mauvais résultats scolaires chez les enfants.
Par contre, si les conditions de logement semblent
effectivement avoir des effets sur les résultats scolaires, la
plupart des recherches menées à ce jour laissent entrevoir
que la situation socio-économique est le facteur qui prédit
le mieux les résultats scolaires.
L’influence des quartiers est probablement le facteur le plus
intrigant, car leurs frontières sont souvent subjectives et ils
peuvent donner naissance à des environnements sociaux,
économiques, politiques et culturels complexes dans lesquels
le logement n’est qu’un des éléments. Néanmoins, la
documentation étudiée établit un lien entre le niveau de
scolarité des enfants et l’aisance du quartier et de la famille.
Une étude canadienne4 qui analyse l’influence du quartier
sur la situation des enfants conclut que les différences
familiales exercent une plus grande influence que la qualité
de l’environnement. Cependant, de nombreux auteurs
suggèrent de faire preuve de prudence avant de tirer des
conclusions de la comparaison entre les caractéristiques du
quartier et celles de la famille et des personnes. Bien qu’il soit
évident que ces liens existent, les observations actuelles ne
pourront être jugées concluantes tant que d’autres études sur
ces liens n’auront pas été réalisées.
Facteurs liés au perfectionnement des
compétences et à l’emploi
Selon certaines recherches, les programmes de logement
dans le cadre desquels le loyer augmente avec le revenu
dissuadent les participants d’augmenter leurs revenus
d’emploi. Toutefois, des effets positifs ont été soulignés
dans une étude sur le programme américain Jobs-Plus5,
un programme d’aide à la recherche d’emploi et à la
formation qui a permis aux résidents de conserver une plus
grande part de leurs revenus. Les femmes sont les grandes
bénéficiaires de ce genre de programme axé à la fois sur le
logement, l’emploi et le perfectionnement des compétences.
En outre, les études montrent que les bénéficiaires de
la sécurité sociale ont davantage de chances de trouver
de l’emploi s’ils habitent près des secteurs d’activité
économique. Par contre, cette observation est nuancée par
des facteurs socio-économiques tels que la possibilité de
déménager dans un quartier offrant de meilleures occasions
d’emploi ou un accès à des moyens de transport.
L’examen de la documentation a aussi permis d’établir un
lien entre la stabilité du logement et un meilleur sentiment
de sécurité chez les ménages, qui est attribuable aux effets
sur l’emploi et le perfectionnement des compétences.
Le mode d’occupation ne semble pas avoir d’incidence
notable sur l’emploi et le perfectionnement des
compétences.
Groupes vulnérables
Quoique nombre de ces observations concernent des
personnes et des groupes différents, l’étude constate un
manque d’information sur les incidences de la scolarisation,
du perfectionnement des compétences et de l’emploi chez
les groupes vulnérables (familles monoparentales, peuples
autochtones et sans-abri). Certaines conclusions confirment
cependant certaines retombées; par exemple, si les femmes
trouvent un logement sûr et abordable, elles renforcent leur
4
Phillip Oreopoulos, The Long-Run Consequences of Living in a Poor Neighborhood, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2003.
5
H. S. Bloom, J. A. Riccio et N. Verma, Promoting Work in Public Housing: The Effectiveness of Jobs-Plus, 2005.
Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement
3
Le Point en recherche
Aperçu de l’état actuel des connaissances sur les retombées sociétales du logement
capacité à atteindre des objectifs liés aux études ou au travail,
ainsi qu’à former des réseaux de soutien. Toutefois, les effets
du logement sur les groupes vulnérables ne sont
généralement pas bien documentés.
Problèmes méthodologiques
En ce qui concerne les effets du logement sur la scolarité, le
perfectionnement des compétences et l’emploi, le principal
problème des conclusions tirées, sur les plans de leur qualité
et de leur validité, réside dans le fait que peu d’études ont
été réalisées à l’aide de méthodes statistiques ou analytiques.
Dans certains cas, les études ont été faites selon la méthode
empirique et les données utilisées s’avèrent aujourd’hui
désuètes. Ce manque de données fiables, exactes et à jour
pose problème.
À l’heure actuelle, la lacune la plus évidente est l’absence de
données et d’information au sujet des retombées en matière
de logement, de scolarité, de perfectionnement des
compétences et d’emploi chez les groupes vulnérables.
Il s’agit d’une importante lacune de la recherche sur le
logement au Canada. Dans la majorité des cas, il existe
de l’information sur les besoins des groupes vulnérables en
matière de logement et sur la place centrale qu’occupe le
logement dans leur vie, mais il existe très peu de données
et d’analyses sur les liens eux-mêmes. Une documentation
exhaustive et à jour sur les effets et les retombées du
logement chez ces groupes pourrait contribuer à améliorer
les programmes et les politiques du Canada à cet égard.
Certaines études ont été menées à l’aide d’une méthodologie
fiable, notamment les travaux de recherche américains
Moving to Opportunity (MTO) et HOPE IV, fondés sur
des études contrôlées sur échantillons aléatoires. Bon
nombre d’études reposent sur d’autres méthodes empiriques
et non expérimentales, notamment les techniques
longitudinales et transversales. D’autres études ont fait appel
à une méthode qui combine l’examen de la documentation
scientifique et l’analyse empirique.
Le tableau 1 résume les liens établis dans la documentation
entre le logement et la scolarité, le perfectionnement des
compétences et l’emploi.
TABLEAU 1 : Résumé des liens établis6
Scolarité
Aisance du quartier/
niveau de scolarité
Revenu familial/
niveau de scolarité
Stabilité et mobilité
Mode d’occupation
(propriétaire ou locataire)
Exemples d’indicateurs
n
Aisance du quartier; pourcentage de
propriétaires-occupants; stabilité/
instabilité du logement; résultats
scolaires; alphabétisme des parents;
revenu familial moyen; accès à des
livres à la maison.
n
Développement social; aisance/
pauvreté du quartier; revenu familial;
niveau de scolarité des parents;
structure familiale du quartier
n
Revenu familial; nombre de
déménagements de la famille;
nombre de changements d’école;
mode d’occupation; état du
logement
Réussite scolaire; revenu familial;
participation au marché du travail;
mode d’occupation; état du
logement; engagement civique
n
6
Conclusions et validité du lien
n
Certaines études montrent que les élèves et les enfants qui habitent un quartier
aisé et alphabétisé obtiennent de meilleurs résultats scolaires que les autres.
n
L’aisance du quartier contribue grandement à réduire le taux de décrochage
scolaire chez les filles.
n
Selon d’autres études, l’aisance du quartier exerce peu d’influence, voire aucune.
n
n
Globalement, les constatations ne sont pas concluantes : de nombreux auteurs
soulignent qu’il faut se garder d’ignorer complètement les caractéristiques
individuelles et familiales, alors que d’autres soulignent le manque de
connaissances sur ces liens.
Certaines études indiquent que les résultats scolaires sont proportionnels au
niveau de scolarité et au revenu des membres de la famille.
n
La stabilité du logement améliore les résultats scolaires.
n
Le nombre de déménagements peut aussi influer sur la probabilité d’obtention
d’un diplôme et les résultats scolaires.
n
Plusieurs études indiquent que les enfants qui habitent dans un logement occupé
par son propriétaire ont un niveau de scolarité plus élevé que les autres.
n
Certaines études révèlent des aspects négatifs ou un manque de compréhension
des responsabilités qui viennent avec le fait d’être propriétaire ainsi que de
l’impact sur les ménages à faible revenu.
La liste complète des études examinées se trouve dans le rapport du consultant.
4
Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement
Le Point en recherche
Aperçu de l’état actuel des connaissances sur les retombées sociétales du logement
Conditions de logement
(caractéristiques physiques :
surpeuplement, densité, état
des lieux, niveau de bruit,
etc.)
Emploi et
perfectionnement des
compétences
Mode d’occupation
(propriétaire ou locataire)
Revenu et loyer
Inégalités relativement à
l’emplacement
Aisance du quartier/
niveau de scolarité
Stabilité
n
Résultats scolaires des enfants; état
du logement; mode d’occupation;
revenu familial; services éducatifs
n
De nombreux faits concourent à indiquer qu’il y a impact négatif sur les résultats
scolaires lorsque, par exemple, un enfant habite dans un logement bruyant,
surpeuplé ou en mauvais état, ou s’il est sans abri.
n
Certaines études semblent aussi indiquer que les conditions de logement ont
une forte incidence sur les résultats scolaires des enfants et peuvent influer
(favorablement ou non) sur d’autres aspects tels que la santé et l’emploi.
Exemples d’indicateurs
n
n
n
n
n
Niveaux d’emploi et de scolarité
Niveau de scolarité; niveau de
compétence; revenu d’emploi
Prestations d’aide sociale; taux
de pauvreté du quartier; accès
à l’emploi (nombre d’emplois
disponibles par chercheur d’emploi)
Sexe du chef du ménage; niveau
de scolarité; revenu des parents;
comparaison du revenu avec celui
des frères et sœurs au fil du temps;
participation au marché du travail
Type de logement locatif (privé ou
public); situation d’emploi actuelle;
conditions de logement; niveau de
scolarité; difficulté à payer le loyer;
facteurs influant sur les décisions
d’emploi; difficulté à trouver un
emploi
Conclusions et validité du lien
n
Peu de faits et de recherches montrent un lien probant entre le mode
d’occupation et le perfectionnement des compétences/l’emploi.
n
n
Le mode d’occupation reflète davantage la situation socio-économique et la
situation d’emploi.
Des études montrent un lien entre une augmentation du loyer en fonction du
revenu et la désincitation au travail. Parfois appelé « piège de la pauvreté »
par certains, ce type de structure pénalise les locataires parce qu’ils travaillent,
surtout quand il s’agit d’emplois mal rémunérés.
n
L’examen du programme américain Jobs-Plus a permis de constater des
retombées favorables pour les participants, surtout pour les femmes.
n
L’emplacement du logement peut avoir des effets limitatifs sur l’emploi : le prix
des logements dans les régions qui offrent de l’emploi est souvent élevé, et il est
difficile de trouver un emploi lorsqu’on habite dans un logement (notamment un
logement social) situé dans une région où le taux de chômage est élevé.
n
Des études soulignent que les gens sont plus susceptibles de travailler s’ils
habitent près des secteurs d’activité économique.
n
Un facteur géographique lie effectivement le logement à l’emploi, mais les
auteurs soutiennent que d’autres facteurs doivent être étudiés, comme l’accès au
transport et la concentration de la pauvreté.
n
Les études révèlent peu d’effets (positifs ou non) exercés par les quartiers à forte
ou à faible pauvreté sur la main-d’œuvre ou l’emploi.
n
La recherche laisse aussi entrevoir que les retombées seraient attribuables
non seulement au déménagement dans un « meilleur quartier », mais aussi à la
situation socio-économique.
n
n
Parmi les autres facteurs constatés, citons l’accès au transport en commun et la
concentration de la pauvreté dans un quartier.
Des études ont constaté des effets positifs de la stabilité du logement pour les
locataires sans emploi (comme l’augmentation du sentiment de sécurité), ce qui
laisse croire à de meilleures chances de trouver un emploi.
n
La stabilité a aussi une incidence favorable sur la situation des femmes, car elle
leur permet de créer des réseaux de soutien et d’accéder à l’emploi.
n
Selon les études, le sentiment de sécurité est probablement un facteur important
pour l’emploi et le perfectionnement des compétences, car il augmente l’estime
de soi et la stabilité économique.
n
D’autres études sur le sujet permettraient de valider les conclusions.
CONCLUSION
Une constatation générale se dégage de l’examen de la
documentation : le logement n’est pas à la source des
avantages et des inconvénients; il n’est qu’un des éléments
dans un ensemble de facteurs interdépendants. Certains
auteurs soutiennent que l’amélioration des conditions de
logement ne peut à elle seule améliorer significativement les
retombées non liées au logement. D’autres font remarquer
que, parce qu’il est étroitement lié au quartier, le logement
influe considérablement sur le bien-être des personnes en
ce qui a trait à de nombreuses retombées sociétales.
Du point de vue du particulier ou du ménage, les faits
corroborent l’observation suivante : l’abordabilité des loyers,
la sécurité d’occupation, le choix et la qualité du logement7
sont directement proportionnels aux effets engendrés. Ainsi,
plus la situation de logement est bonne, meilleures sont les
chances d’obtenir de bons résultats scolaires, de
perfectionner ses compétences et de trouver un emploi.
7
Mesurés selon les caractéristiques du logement, comme le surpeuplement, l’âge et l’état.
Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement
5
Le Point en recherche
Aperçu de l’état actuel des connaissances sur les retombées sociétales du logement
Directeur de projet à la SCHL : Ed Nera
Consultant pour le projet de recherche:
Ed Starr, Principal, SHS Consulting
Recherche sur le logement à la SCHL
Aux termes de la partie IX de la Loi nationale sur l’habitation,
le gouvernement du Canada verse des fonds à la SCHL afin de lui
permettre de faire de la recherche sur les aspects socio-économiques
et techniques du logement et des domaines connexes, et d’en publier
et d’en diffuser les résultats.
Le présent feuillet documentaire fait partie d’une série visant à
vous informer sur la nature et la portée du programme de recherche
de la SCHL.
Pour consulter d’autres feuillets Le Point en recherche et pour
prendre connaissance d’un large éventail de produits d’information,
visitez notre site Web au www.schl.ca
ou communiquez avec la
Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement
700, chemin de Montréal
Ottawa (Ontario)
K1A 0P7
Téléphone : 1-800-668-2642
Télécopieur : 1-800-245-9274
66752
©2009, Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement
Imprimé au Canada
Réalisation : SCHL
13-01-10
Bien que ce produit d’information se fonde sur les connaissances actuelles des experts en habitation, il n’a pour but que d’offrir des
renseignements d’ordre général. Les lecteurs assument la responsabilité des mesures ou décisions prises sur la foi des renseignements contenus
dans le présent ouvrage. Il revient aux lecteurs de consulter les ressources documentaires pertinentes et les spécialistes du domaine concerné
afin de déterminer si, dans leur cas, les renseignements, les matériaux et les techniques sont sécuritaires et conviennent à leurs besoins.
La Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement se dégage de toute responsabilité relativement aux conséquences résultant de l’utilisation
des renseignements, des matériaux et des techniques contenus dans le présent ouvrage.
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Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement
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K1A 0P7
Titre du rapport: _______________________________________
_______________________________________
Je préférerais que ce rapport soit disponible en français.
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Table of Contents
1. Introduction ....................................................................................................1
1.1 Research Objectives ..................................................................................2
2. Current Conceptual Thinking on How Housing Affects Societal
Outcomes Related to Education, Skills Development and Employment:
Findings of the Literature Review .....................................................................5
2.1 Background and Context ............................................................................7
2.2 How Housing May Affect Societal Outcomes Related to Education, Skills
Development and Employment .........................................................................8
2.2.1 Housing Factors Related to Educational Outcomes ............................9
•
Neighbourhoods................................................................................10
•
Transience and Stability....................................................................11
•
Tenure...............................................................................................12
•
Housing Conditions ...........................................................................12
2.2.2 Factors Relating to Skills Development and Employment..................13
•
Tenure...............................................................................................13
•
Income and Rent Structure ...............................................................14
•
Location ............................................................................................14
•
Stability .............................................................................................15
2.3 Impact of Housing on Vulnerable Groups.................................................15
•
Aboriginal Peoples ............................................................................17
•
Women and Single-Parent Households ............................................18
•
Children and Youth ...........................................................................19
•
Seniors..............................................................................................20
Recent Immigrants and Refugees.....................................................21
•
•
Housing and Homeless Populations .................................................22
2.4 Summary of Identified Linkages ...............................................................25
3. Methodological Approaches .......................................................................29
3.1 Methodologies and Data ..........................................................................29
3.1.1
Methodologies Reviewed ..............................................................29
•
Non-Experimental Studies ................................................................29
•
Experimental Studies ........................................................................30
3.1.2
Available Methodologies and Data Sets: Challenges of Attributing
Outcomes to Housing ..................................................................................31
3.2 What Data and Literature Gaps Exist? .....................................................35
4. Addressing Weaknesses and Filling the Gaps: Future Avenues ............38
4.1 Strengthening Methodologies and Data Collection...................................38
4.1.1
Defining the Issues ...........................................................................38
4.1.2
Analytical Models...........................................................................41
Experimental Models................................................................................41
Mixed-Method Models ..............................................................................43
Longitudinal Models .................................................................................44
Other Models............................................................................................45
4.1.3
Data and Data Sets .......................................................................46
Longitudinal data sets ..............................................................................47
The Longitudinal Administrative Database (LAD).....................................47
Cross-section data sets............................................................................47
The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC) .......................48
Methodological Notes of Caution .............................................................49
4.1.4
Considerations for Indicators of Housing and Education, Skills
Development and Employment Impacts ......................................................50
4.2 Future Research Considerations..............................................................54
5. Concluding Discussion ...............................................................................57
Appendices .......................................................................................................58
Appendix I - Proposals for Future Research Projects ...................................59
Appendix II – Review of Identified Methodologically Sound Studies...........61
List of Acronyms...............................................................................................73
Bibliography ......................................................................................................74
1. Introduction
This study is being undertaken to help increase the level of understanding
regarding the linkages between housing and broader societal outcomes,
specifically education, skills development, and employment. In particular, the
project is aimed at identifying and assessing the current body of research
regarding these linkages in terms of existing empirical evidence, data gaps, and
related methodological challenges and opportunities.
For example, a recent study by Habitat for Humanity and the University of
Guelph titled “Assessment of the Outcomes for Habitat for Humanity Home
Buyers” (2004) provides an analysis of 454 Habitat homes from across Canada.
The study identifies several benefits for the residents due to their improved
housing situation.
In particular, the report states that almost one quarter (23.6%) of the household
respondents indicated that one or both spouses had returned to school following
moving into their new home. Further, almost half of these individuals learned a
new trade or upgraded their job skills. In addition, the report states that
approximately 30% of the individuals who returned to school enrolled in a college
or university program. Respondents indicated that the stability of their housing
costs allowed them the freedom to consider returning to school.
A study on job creation and housing construction (Saks, 2005) prepared as part
of the Federal Reserve Board Finance and Economics Discussion Series
(Washington DC) explores the impact of housing supply regulations on housing
and local labour markets. The study determines that housing regulations can
change the geographic distribution of housing prices and alter the pattern of
labour migration. As a result, the report finds that employment growth is lower in
places where the housing supply is more constrained. The study discusses this
finding to assess the impact of these policies on individuals of low and moderate
income.
These types of research point to the linkages between housing and other key
societal outcomes such as education, skills development and employment. By
learning more about these linkages, CMHC and other housing policy agencies
can have a greater understanding of the broader impacts of various housing
policy initiatives on society as a whole. This study is being undertaken to
investigate the available research on such impacts, identify the strength of any
linkages that have been determined and identify any research gaps that should
be filled to improve our understanding of the subject.
1
1.1 Research Objectives
The first phase of the research carried out for this project consisted of a review
and assessment of literature pertaining to the linkages between housing and
other broader societal outcomes (SHS, 2007). Based on this review, a working
definition of societal outcomes of housing related to education, skills
development and employment was developed, as follows:
Housing conditions and characteristics in Canada are linked to the level of
educational performance, skills development and employment opportunities
of the individual/household and society as a whole; that is, the more positive
the housing situation in terms of affordability, security of tenure, choice and
quality of accommodation, the more positive the impact on education, skills
development and employment.
While many of the studies did find linkages between housing and education,
skills development and employment, there was often difficulty proving causality.
One reason for this is the difficulty of separating family characteristics from
location; another problem is the lack of complete and current data: in many
cases, these weaknesses are particularly problematic for the validity of the
research.
Nevertheless, much of the research has established, despite a general lack of
rigour, that there is evidence that housing does have impacts on education, skills
development and employment. This review identified gaps and related
methodological challenges, as well as strengths and weaknesses of the various
studies.
Building on the findings of the literature review, this paper focuses on answering
the following research questions:
•
What is the current conceptual thinking on how housing affects
societal outcomes related to education, skills development and
employment? Evaluate how these effects may be measured and any
challenges that accompany this measurement. Additionally, what are the
perspectives of such studies with respect to different vulnerable groups
with distinct housing needs, such as seniors, persons with disabilities,
youth and children, homeless populations, Aboriginal peoples, women and
single-parent households, and recent immigrants and refugees.
•
What were the strengths and weaknesses of the various
methodological approaches that have been used to identify, quantify
and attribute societal outcomes between housing and education,
skills development and employment? Specifically, attention will be
2
given to what challenges existed, or exist and how they were overcome,
as well as what data gaps exist in the current knowledge.
•
What future research, including programs and individual studies,
could be recommended as feasible and most promising? Given the
current knowledge of the linkages between housing and employment,
skills development and education, how might the approaches best be put
to use, how could data gaps best be filled, and what indicators exist or
could be created to measure societal outcomes of housing.
Addressing these research questions is of particular importance in starting to
establish a more formal set of practices and methodologies to more accurately
and regularly measure the societal outcomes of housing. This would enable
governments, researchers, and other housing stakeholders to develop and
further improve upon policies and programs based on proven and valid research
findings.
In undertaking the review of research conducted on the linkages between
housing and education, skills development and employment, it became clear that
some key concepts must be kept in mind in any future work in this area.
That is, the research has found that housing is situated geographically in
neighbourhoods, which may be rural, urban, or suburban, affluent or poor, large
or small, racially and ethnically diverse or homogeneous. In order to discuss the
impact of housing on non-housing outcomes, housing needs to be viewed in the
context of both the neighbourhood - the physical area around the house and
home - and the community, which includes the social characteristics and the
services provided in the neighbourhood. Housing is thus a multi-dimensional
element, and can be seen from many different yet complementary angles, which
include housing “as a physical commodity, as an economic entity, as an item tied
to different forms of consumption, and as a location in space” (Shlay, 1995,
p.699).
The concept of neighbourhood is more difficult to define than that of housing. In
a recent study from the University of Toronto that examined income polarization
in that city’s neighbourhoods, David Hulchanski highlighted the fact that defining
them is an inherently subjective process, as “there is no way to draw boundaries
that define specific neighbourhoods” (Hulchanski, 2007, p.3). He further stresses
that this is because neighbourhoods encompass many aspects and elements of
each resident’s sense of community and experiences. The study did stress that
regardless of the difficulty in defining what exactly constitutes neighbourhoods,
there is no doubt about their impacts on health status, education outcomes and
other aspects of personal well-being.
3
When considering the effects of housing on education, skills development and
employment, therefore, it becomes clear that these linkages between the
elements also encompass linkages to other aspects, such as neighbourhoods.
4
2. Current Conceptual Thinking on How Housing
Affects Societal Outcomes Related to Education, Skills
Development and Employment: Findings of the
Literature Review
In The Truly Disadvantaged, written in 1987, Wilson put forth the argument that
there are strong neighbourhood effects on the behaviour and social outcomes of
residents. Wilson posited that when black middle class families moved from
inner-city areas in the 1960’s, they left the poor of those neighbourhoods socially
disadvantaged. As a result of the loss of economically stable families, schools
and local businesses in these areas could not be sustained during the 1970s and
1980s periods of high unemployment. Wilson believed that the lack of
educational opportunities, role models and social capital resulted in the poor of
these neighbourhoods becoming dependent on welfare and entrenched in
poverty.
Many authors have stressed that economic and social development are driven by
the housing system. Social inclusion or exclusion, economic growth and job
creation are all linked to it: “the housing system shapes individual well-being and
a broad range of social outcomes because it is closely tied to the qualities of
community and social space” (Jackson, 2004).
A paper by Andrew Jackson cites the TD Bank (2003), Fallis (1994) and
Maclennan (2001), all of whom identify the important role housing plays in both
economic and social development. Maclennan’s work makes the case that both
social and economic progress are shaped, in large part, by housing since
economic development is socially grounded and it evolves in place. This is
echoed in Carter and Polevychok’s (2004) research where they reiterate that
homes do not exist in isolation in their neighbourhoods. They identify the need
for community-level interventions that consider housing as a major factor related
to broader community-based initiatives because of the combined influence on
people of the intersection of housing and neighbourhood.
Hay (2005) uses a figure from Carter and Polevychok (Figure 1) to illustrate the
links between housing and its role in securing the well-being of the population as
a whole (p. 2). It presents the central role that housing plays in many aspects of
a person’s life and even though the focus of the present study is education, skills
development and employment, the importance of housing becomes clear.
5
Figure 1
HEALTH
CARE
EDUCATION
Enhancing
educational
attainment
Improving physical &
mental health
SOCIAL
DEVELOPMENT
Foundation of family
life & social
interaction
INCOME
SECURITY
Enhancing income
security
HOUSING
A stabilizing and
facilitating role
LABOUR FORCE
Contributing to
stability and mobility
COMMUNITY
DEVELOPMENT
Skills development,
investment, capacity
building.
IMMIGRATION
Facilitating
integration
Source: Carter & Polevychok, 2004
As noted in Figure 1, one of the key impacts of housing is on health care. This
linkage has received more attention than perhaps any other, having seemingly
been a sub-category of the growing body of work on social inequalities and
health (Dunn 2000). The work done in this area has shown evidence highlighting
the positive outcomes that stable housing helps achieve on the health of
individuals.1
1
Examples of such research are not exclusive to, but include the following: J.R. Dunn, 2000,
Housing and Health Inequalities: Review and Prospects for Research; Dunn, 2002, Housing and
Inequalities in Health: A Study of Socioeconomic Dimensions of Housing and Self Reported
Health from a Survey of Vancouver Residents; Wilkinson & Marmot,2003, Social Determinants of
Health Second Edition: The Solid Facts; Health Canada, 2007, People, Place and Health; CMHC,
2003, Housing Quality and Children’s Socioemotional Health.
6
Galster and Killen (1995) also emphasized such linkages, more specifically the
impact that the quality of neighbourhoods can have on the development of nonhousing outcomes such as education and employment. They identified “a
geography of metropolitan opportunity” (p. 8), which impacts the possibilities for
residents living in different neighbourhoods: across a metropolitan region,
residents will not have equal opportunities since markets and institutions are not
distributed equally across the region. This means that households are often
confined to certain areas because of their socio-economic status (SES) and are
therefore limited to particular markets and institutions. Such gaps in socioeconomic opportunities between and among neighbourhoods can affect the
possible opportunities for those living in a neighbourhood in terms of both public
and private resources.
While it is clear that much has been written on housing and the links it has, and
can have, to other societal and environmental elements, it is often difficult to
determine the strengths and weaknesses of these findings and arguments. One
goal of the literature review was to evaluate these strengths and weaknesses, in
order to guide further research into the societal links of housing. The following
section addresses the various outcomes that were drawn from the Phase One
Literature Review.
2.1 Background and Context
During the literature review, it became clear that the recent interest in examining
the societal outcomes of housing stems largely from three important programs in
the United-States. Some aspects of education, skills development and
employment outcomes were examined as part of the Gautreaux Program in
Chicago that involved over 7000 families between 1976 and 1998. This program
came about as the result of a 1976 Supreme Court decision in a lawsuit filed by
public housing residents against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) and the Chicago Housing Authority, charging them with
racially discriminatory policies (Grant, 2001). Public housing residents, including
those on the waiting list, were allowed to receive vouchers (Section 8 housing
certificates) and move to private-sector apartments as a deliberate attempt to
create racial and social class mixing. These apartments were located either in
the mostly-white suburbs or in the City of Chicago. Families were not allowed to
choose where in the Chicago area they would be placed and were guided by
placement counsellors who helped them review the advantages and
disadvantages of moving, and took them to visit the apartments and the
communities.
About half of the 7000 families moved to the suburbs (Rosenbaum, Reynolds, &
Deluca, 2001). The positive non-housing social and economic outcomes
resulting from this longitudinal study were instrumental in later developments in
housing projects undertaken in the United States. Studies found that children
7
who had moved to the suburbs grew to be young adults who were much more
likely to graduate from high school, attend four-year colleges, and have jobs with
better pay and benefits (Rosenbaum, Reynolds & DeLuca, 2001). Gautreaux
mothers who moved to the suburbs had higher employment rates than city
movers.
As a result of the Gautreaux program, a five-city national demonstration program
called Moving to Opportunity (MTO) was established in 1991. Approximately
4600 families in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City
have participated in this project where participant eligibility was limited to very
low-income families with children who lived in public housing or Section 8
(voucher subsidized) project-based housing located in central city
neighbourhoods with high concentrations of poverty.2
In addition, in 1992, HOPE VI was established as the primary U.S. federal
program to reform public housing. HOPE VI is a program that replaces the most
distressed public housing units with mixed income housing. Both MTO and
HOPE VI were designed to create mixed-income communities. The MTO model
provides housing vouchers to low income families that can be used to help pay
market rent only in low poverty neighbourhoods and HOPE VI helps relocate lowincome families to mixed income buildings or developments.
Research related to the non-shelter outcomes of these housing models is
ongoing. “If, as a result of moving from concentrated ‘ghettos’ of poverty to
mixed-income communities, poor workers and families are able to find jobs that
allow for advancement beyond minimum wage, find out about and enrol in
training programs, send their children to better schools, and even complete post
secondary education, rates of poverty and inequality can be expected to
improve” (Grant, 2001).
2.2 How Housing May Affect Societal Outcomes Related to
Education, Skills Development and Employment
Overall, the literature is fairly consistent in finding that housing in itself is not the
root cause of disadvantage; rather it is only one element in a set of interrelated
factors that determine advantage and disadvantage. Some authors point out that
improvements in housing are not enough to result in significant improvements in
non-housing outcomes (Mullins & Western, 2001a). Others, such as Jackson
(2004), point out that because housing is so connected to the neighbourhood it is
situated in, it has a major impact on individual well-being on a broad range of
social outcomes. The latter also identified the link between socio-economic
status, child outcomes, and housing since high housing costs push families
2
Information based on the MTO interim evaluation. The current findings have been evaluated
against the findings of other studies in this report.
8
deeper into poverty, often resulting in families living in deprived neighbourhoods
that lack social supports and social services, have high rates of crime, and poorquality schools.
For the individual or household, the evidence points to the observation that the
greater the degree of affordability, security of tenure, choice, and quality of
accommodation3 the more positive the impact: i.e. the more positive the housing
status, the greater the likelihood of positive educational performance, skills
development and employment success. Pomeroy (2004) states that, “it is the
role housing plays in enabling citizens to fully participate in society, or not, that
needs to be made central to the policy and program debate” (p. 18).
The Phase One Literature Review(SHS, 2007), which assessed the literature,
established that, despite a general lack of rigour in much of the research work
conducted on the subject, there is evidence that housing has positive impacts on
education, skills development and employment. When talking of housing it is
important to recognize that housing refers not only to the physical structure of the
dwelling, including its design and characteristics, but also to the social and
psychological aspects of the house, which might be referred to as “the home”.
“Home is a base that is integral to people’s emotional, cultural, social and
economic health” (Carter & Polevychok, 2004).
Nevertheless, many of the studies did highlight significant links between housing
and the three elements that are employment, skills development and education.
This is of particular importance within the mandate of this research, supporting
the need for further research on these issues. The importance of research in
these areas can be seen in the amount of work done surrounding the MTO and
HOPE IV programs: the findings to date, drawn from the various studies, have
shown interesting links between housing and other elements, as well as the
impacts of housing. Such evidence can make a valuable contribution to the
development of housing policies and programs.
It should also be noted that the MTO studies to date have been using data from
the interim evaluation. The program is currently approaching the final data
collection process, and therefore judgement as to the ultimate impacts, and
strengths of the linkages should be reserved for the final evaluations.
2.2.1 Housing Factors Related to Educational Outcomes
Within the literature reviewed, several housing-related factors were identified as
having, or potentially having, an impact on educational outcomes. These
elements were the following:
•
•
3
Neighbourhoods
Transience and stability
Measured in terms of housing characteristics such as overcrowding, age, state of repair, etc.
9
•
•
Tenure type
Housing conditions (physical characteristics of the house such as
overcrowding and density)
Their impact on educational outcomes is summarized below.
• Neighbourhoods
It would seem that “neighbourhood” is a rather large and somewhat subjective
term. This is also compounded by much of the findings of the research that
highlights the cross-cutting nature of many of the elements in question that are at
play within a neighbourhood. For example, one cannot necessarily evaluate
neighbourhood effects without considering housing characteristics or quality, or
human factors. Many authors highlight this, cautioning to try and understand the
interplay between characteristics of the neighbourhood, the family and
individuals, and the community(ies). This can be taken one step further by
asking how one separates all of these effects from that of the housing units in
which people live.
This is not to say the above elements cannot be assessed individually, but one
must be aware of the inherent complexity and the potential for cumulative effects
that larger socio-economic structures such as neighbourhoods can have on
research findings, making it difficult to evaluate each component. However,
housing itself is affected by the environment around it, thus it is important to
consider this when evaluating the impacts of housing outcomes on individuals
and families.
Regardless of the issues arising from its definition, an insightful observation by
Ellen and Turner highlights the general findings of their work on neighbourhoods
and their impact on educational outcomes:
“Empirical research generally confirms that neighbourhood environment has an
influence on important educational outcomes for children and adults. But efforts
to identify which neighbourhood characteristics matter most, and to quantify their
importance for families and children, have been inconclusive overall” (Ellen &
Turner, 1997, p. 833).
This is echoed by many other research studies such as Beauvais & Jenson
(2003), Buck (2001), Erebus (2005), Jencks & Mayer (1990), and Manski (1993).
One neighbourhood factor that has been shown to make a difference in students’
educational attainment is affluence, highlighted in work by Edwards (2005),
Pebley and Sastry (2003) and Kohen & Hertzman (1999 – with Brooks-Gunn in
1998). This was also highlighted in a study of the educational achievements of
grade 3 students in Ontario by Tremblay et al. (2001). The research highlighted
a correlation between the affluence and educational attainment of a
neighbourhood, and higher outcomes for the schools in these neighbourhoods,
compared to less-advantaged neighbourhoods. However, Tremblay et al. stress
10
the importance of student characteristics, as well as individual familial
characteristics and dynamics can also influence outcomes.
Some studies and their authors have shown that higher income and higher levels
of education within a family are also associated with higher levels of children’s
competencies in school (Edwards, 2005; Peck, 2001; Kohen & Hertzman, 1998).
Mullins and Western (2001b) noted that lower income households and those in
public housing were less likely to have higher rates of education, but cautioned
that their study was cross-sectional, and therefore not necessarily able to identify
the positive or negative aspects of living in public housing something better
examined through more detailed longitudinal studies.
Finally, other studies undertaken to look at the impact of educational attainment
on students living in public housing found little differences between their
academic achievement and the academic achievement of students whose
families used vouchers to move to housing in low-poverty areas (Currie &
Yelowitz, 1999; Jacob, 2003; Phipps & Young, 2005; Sanbonmatsu et al,, 2004;
U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, 2003). However, differences in
school dropout rates were found between the experimental and control groups
for female students living in mixed housing through the use of vouchers: the
female students had lower dropout rates when they lived in low poverty areas
(Kling & Liebman, 2004, Popkin, Leventhal & Weismann, 2006).
Thus, based on these findings, neighbourhood effects do exist and cannot be
discounted. However these cannot be entirely relied upon until more conclusive
links to overall neighbourhood effects can be established and better understood.
Buck (2001) stresses caution in treating these associations and effects given the
complexity of issues and elements that form a neighbourhood.
• Transience and Stability
According to Phibbs and Young (2005), teachers identified stability as important
for the learning process, especially when children have learning difficulties. Their
findings show that, where public housing is provided, improvements in
educational outcomes arise as a result of stability. Poor school attendance and a
change of school are both elements that can result in educational problems,
often preventing a continuity of assistance or remediation. Changing schools
was often associated with poorer educational outcomes (Braconi, 2001; Kohen,
Hertzman and Brooks-Gunn, 1998; Wood, et al, as cited in Cooper, 2001).
The study on Housing and Schooling conducted by Braconi (2001) for the
Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC) concluded that, as the number of
moves increase during an adolescent’s school years, the likelihood of graduation
is somewhat reduced. Braconi analyzed several housing variables and in
general found them to have significant effects on high school completion. He
11
reported finding a positive and statistically significant effect of home ownership
on graduation rates, which was consistent with other studies.
• Tenure
A positive association between home ownership and improvement in children’s
educational attainment has been established by several studies (Braconi, 2001;
Bridge, et al., 2007; Crawford and Londerville, 2004; Curtis & Phipps, 2006;
Mullins & Western, 2001a; Rossi & Weber, 1996; Steele & Sarker, 2005).
However, in many cases tenure and income, or socio-economic status, are all
closely linked, as owning is more expensive than renting. Many lower income
households are therefore less likely to own their dwellings, or rely on public
housing units. According to Blunden (2005), “tenure type can be read as a
‘proxy’ for income, employment history, education, etc. not because the tenure
type ‘causes’ a particular outcome” (p. 13). Overall it would seem that SES is a
more important indicator that is predictive of educational outcomes (Peck, 2001).
The analysis of the second wave of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of
Children and Youth (NLSCY) done by Curtis and Phipps (2000) examined
economic factors in child development. Among these, they measured for
housing owned by the family of the child, as well as the quality of the home in
question and controlled for assets available to the family, and time associated
with acquiring income. They found that homeownership was associated with
better outcomes for children’s overall health. However, specifically regarding
educational outcomes, their study found that available parent time (whether two
parents or a lone parent) was more significantly associated to success in school
than housing variables.
Therefore, although the association with tenure type has been shown to be
positive in some cases, there is evidence that suggests that SES and the
stabilizing effect of housing may be more important factors to positive
educational achievement than tenure type. Examples of this are seen in the
work of Phibbs and Young, highlighting the positive effects of stability from public
housing, or Curtis and Phipps where parental time also played an important role.
When considering the findings of the MTO and HOPE VI research this would
seem to be true. However, caution must be exercised when considering these
elements as, again, the extent of the inter-relationships is not fully understood,
and it would seem that although tenure type is a factor in educational outcomes,
these are influenced by other factors as well.
• Housing Conditions
In most studies, housing conditions that were studied included the physical
characteristics of the dwelling, as well as elements such as overcrowding.
Several of the studies reviewed found that overcrowding, noise, and poor
12
housing conditions are linked to educational achievement (Cooper, 2001; Mullins,
Western, & Broadbent, 2001b; Phibbs, Young, 2005; Curtis and Phipps, 2000).
Mullins and Western (2001a) also review the literature related to housing and
education and find that negative education impacts on children occur when they
are homeless, or live in noisy homes, overcrowded conditions, or in slums. This
is echoed by Curtis and Phipps who found a relationship in the Canadian data
they used, showing negative outcomes for children living in homes in need of
major repairs.
In addition, Braconi’s 2001 study also found that there was some causality with
respect to housing quality and educational attainment, relating the number of
deficient maintenance conditions present within the unit to the probability of
graduating high school, i.e., probability drops by 1% with each additional
maintenance condition. However, they suggest further study is required on the
connection between substandard housing and educational achievement.
2.2.2 Factors Relating to Skills Development and Employment
Within the literature, several housing-related factors were identified as having, or
potentially having, an impact on skills development and employment. These
elements were the following:
•
•
•
•
Tenure type
Income and Rent Structure
Location
Stability
Their impact on skills development and employment is summarized below.
• Tenure
Linking tenure to employment and skills development tends to be problematic
based on current research. According to Blunden, people’s resources and
income result in them sorting themselves into different types of housing. She
asserts that “tenure is a de facto indication of employment status and work
history” (Blunden, 2005), but follows up by stressing that it is indicative of
employment status rather than causative.
This is supported by Mullins and Westerns’ (2001b) analysis of Australian data,
which showed a significant correlation between education and employment
status. Interestingly, however, public housing tenants and low-income private
tenants had the lowest scores of all the tenure groups (including owneroccupiers, purchasers, and other private tenants), yet their multiple regression
analyses did not show a correlation between these factors and housing per se.
13
Again, these varying conclusions illustrate the need for more complete research
and data on these factors. Mullins and Western themselves caution the readers
in the interpretation of their data since their analysis was cross-sectional - a
“snapshot in time” of sorts – but that better knowledge of what longer terms
effects can come of these correlations, and the role housing plays in the equation
could only be obtained through the use of longitudinal studies.
• Income and Rent Structure
Fixed rent rules and rents are often a disincentive for tenants in public housing to
find employment (Hulse & Randolph, 2004, Riccio, 2007). This is due to the
income-related rent structure in public housing, which creates a very real
disincentive for some renters to work: Riccio’s work cites HUD data showing that
for roughly every dollar of an income increase, residents’ rents increased
accordingly and their housing subsidy decreased. Phibbs and Young (2005) also
highlight this “poverty trap” that public housing renters can fall into when they see
themselves as being penalized for taking on even part time or casual work.
The Jobs-Plus program in the United-States provides assistance with job
placement and training, new rent rules where working residents can keep more
of their earnings, and a community support for work component. It has been
shown to be successful (Bloom, Riccio, Verma, 2005; Kramer, 2000). Johnson
and Ruddock (2000) identified a number of positive outcomes for women when
they were involved in programs that combined housing and employment skills
development.
The policy implications of this “poverty trap” are universal, and have been
highlighted in a Social Housing Services Corporation (SHSC) report in the
Ontario context as an issue needing rectification.4 Given the successes of JobsPlus, the report suggested the need for more integration of housing and
employment programs.
• Location
Contradictory evidence seems to point to differing effects of housing location on
employment. Some authors highlight that public housing, located in low labour
demand areas (i.e. high unemployment areas) can make it more difficult for a
person to access work (Allard & Danziger, 2001; DTZ Consulting, 2006; Hulse &
Randolph, 2004). While not looking specifically at public housing tenants,
Dodson (2005) found a relationship between inequalities in labour markets and
inequalities in housing markets that have exclusionary effects. For example,
regions where jobs are available can often be accompanied by high house
prices. These higher housing costs can be exclusionary; people who cannot
afford the cost of housing may be forced to leave these higher-cost, job-rich
areas for others with lower housing costs but where the employment prospects
may be worse (Bridge, et al., 2003; Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2005;
4
Social Housing Services Corporation (2007). Snakes and Ladders: Ending Poverty Traps by
Rebuilding Livelihoods in Social Housing. Toronto.
14
Mullins & Western, 2001a). Some of these low-cost regions are areas of public
housing.
This is somewhat echoed by Blunden, who points out that there are also findings
which support the theory of spatial mismatching of employment, where willing
workers do not find themselves located where jobs are readily available. Several
American studies had findings that supported this conclusion (Ihlafeldt &
Sjoquist, 1998; Allard & Danziger, 2003). Allard and Danziger found that social
security recipients were more likely to work if they lived closer to work
opportunities.
However, the studies conducted on the MTO and HOPE VI programs to
determine whether people who moved from areas of high poverty to areas of low
poverty would be more likely to be employed found no difference between the
experimental and control groups. This was also the case in other studies looking
at the impact of living in areas of high poverty and employment (Buck, 2001; DTZ
Consulting, 2006; Engeland & Lewis, 2006; Erebus, 2005; Levy & Wooley, 2007;
Oreopoulos, 2003; Mullins & Western, 2001a; Phibbs & Young, 2001; U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2003).
These mixed findings highlight the inter-related nature of all the elements, as
there may be a locational factor involved in housing. But the research also points
to such outcomes also being attributable to socio-economic status: i.e. simply not
being able to move to “better” areas with more jobs as they might have
unaffordable housing markets. According to Blunden, the Ihlafeldt and Sjoquist
study also pointed to other factors such as mass transit accessibility and the
concentration of poverty in a neighbourhood.
• Stability
In their 2004 study, Hulse and Randolph found that most unemployed tenants
living in public housing felt that they had a better sense of security by being in
public housing and could therefore have a better chance of looking for work. As
with educational outcomes, the element of stability that public housing provides is
likely an important factor for employment and skills development, a finding
supported by Phibbs and Young. This sense of security reported by public
housing tenants in all studies is important, most having reported an increased
sense of self-esteem and economic stability that came from it.
2.3 Impact of Housing on Vulnerable Groups
While the above observations and findings relate to the impact of housing on
society as a whole, it is equally critical to try and understand the importance of
housing to vulnerable groups often experiencing difficulty securing adequate,
affordable and suitable accommodation.
15
“Links are being made from housing to the social exclusion of single parents,
social assistance recipients, Aboriginal Canadians, new immigrants, and persons
with disabilities. Housing is coming to be more widely seen as a key factor in
social inclusion, connected to overall population health, healthy child
development, and the creation of supportive and cohesive communities”
(Jackson, 2004, p.7). The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC)
(2004) identifies the high cost of shelter as the single biggest cause of poverty in
urban Canada.
According to a report by the Policy Research Initiative (PRI) Project (2005),
roughly one in six Canadian households live in core housing need.5 In urban
areas, both affordability and suitability play a role in the identified need; in areas
adjacent to urban areas, affordability alone is the major concern; while in
Northern rural areas suitable housing is identified as the greatest need. “Money
spent on housing cannot be spent on other things – health services, recreation,
education and nutrition” (Carter & Polevychok, p.12).
The above-noted report also points out the role housing can play in facilitating
and possibly magnifying the effectiveness of other supports for people living in
poverty. To avoid marginalization, housing can provide individuals with the
stability and physical security needed to move from a state of social exclusion to
one of social inclusion with a new sense of order in their lives.
The following discusses the findings from the literature regarding linkages
between housing and education, skills development and employment for
vulnerable groups. Although much research has been done on the housing
needs of various vulnerable groups (such as seniors, youth and Aboriginals), it
was found that little meaningful research has been undertaken on the impact of
housing on the education-employment-skills development of specific vulnerable
groups. This is, in fact, one of the biggest gaps that currently exists in housing
research in Canada.
5
CMHC : A household is said to be in core housing need if it falls below at least one of the
adequacy, affordability, or suitability standards and would have to spend 30% or more of its
before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (meets all
three standards). Adequate dwellings are those reported by their residents as not requiring any
major repairs; Affordable dwellings cost less than 30% of the total before-tax household income;
Suitable dwellings have enough bedrooms for the size and make-up of resident households,
according to National Occupancy Standard (NOS) requirements. A household is not in core
housing need if its housing meets all of these standards, or, if its housing does not meet one or
more of these standards, but it has sufficient income to obtain alternative local housing that is
acceptable (meets all three standards).
16
• Aboriginal Peoples
Much has been written on the housing needs of the Aboriginal population in
Canada. According to Statistics Canada (2001), the highest concentrations of
the Aboriginal population at the time of the Census lived in the North and on the
Prairies. Eighty-five percent of the total population of Nunavut, 51% of the total
population of the Northwest Territories, and 23% of the population of the Yukon
are Aboriginal people. However, an increasing proportion of Aboriginal people
are living in urban centres including Winnipeg (8% of the population), Saskatoon
(9% of the population), Toronto (0.4%) and Montreal (0.3%). This trend has
continued - a recent study by Statistics Canada (2006) on Aboriginal Peoples in
Canada found that these numbers increased for the majority of cities in the 2006
census.6
Compared to the non-Aboriginal population, Aboriginal people living in urban
municipalities are considerably worse off socially and economically in terms of
their rates of homelessness, unemployment, poverty, and crime. They also tend
to have a lower level of education, more health related problems, and have a
larger proportion of single-mother led families among their population. It is also
important to note that Aboriginal households were 1.6 times more likely than nonAboriginal households to live in core housing need (PRI 2005; 2001 Census
data). Almost one in four off-reserve Aboriginal households were in core housing
need, as are an extremely high proportion of Aboriginal single-parent households
(Carter, Polevychok, 2004). Because of jurisdictional issues related to the access
to services for Aboriginal people, it can be difficult for them to obtain appropriate
services in urban centres (Graham & Peters, 2002).
In their literature review, Carter and Polevychok (2004) found that housing
remains a major problem for Aboriginal people who move to urban areas to find
jobs and better housing. Several factors impede their ability to find suitable
housing, which includes “the shortage of housing, discrimination by landlords,
and lack of information on housing availability” (p. 7). As a result, they often end
up living in declining inner city neighbourhoods, housed in poor quality and
unaffordable units.
Research showed that Aboriginal people were also over-represented among the
homeless populations in every major city where statistics were available (Carter
and Polevychok, 2004). They attribute the existence of such homelessness
among the Aboriginal population to the “lack of appropriate policies,
uncoordinated services, the absence of affordable housing, insufficient
supportive housing, high unemployment, and cuts to welfare rates” (p. 10). This
is compounded by other contributing social factors, including “poor health, mental
illness, substance abuse, domestic violence and poverty” (p. 10). Several other
issues were also identified which hinder access to services, such as a lack of
transportation, childcare needs, lack of information, and lack of resources.
6
The 2006 Census found that Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal’s aboriginal populations have
grown to 10%, 0.5%, and 0.5% of the cities’ respective populations, with Saskatoon stable at 9%.
17
While the above studies and references speak to the wide range of housing
concerns among the Aboriginal population, they do not provide specific research
on the impacts of these housing problems on education, skills development or
employment of this population. From our review, it is clear that, although there is
a considerable amount of research regarding Aboriginal populations, very little
exists in terms of research examining the links between housing and education,
employment, and skills development for Aboriginal populations. This constitutes
a major gap in Canadian housing research.
• Women and Single-Parent Households
The PRI Project (2005) cited a 2004 CMHC Report which points out that almost
half of the non-Aboriginal single parent households with children under 18 living
in rental accommodations lived in core housing need in 2001. In a literature
review related to women and housing, Johnson and Ruddock (2004) found that
women-led households have been over-represented in the proportion of lowincome families and those dealing with serious housing problems. The number
of lone-parent households increased rapidly between 1996 and 2001, then
increased more slowly between 2001 and 2006 (Statistics Canada, 1996, 2001,
and 2006 Census).
In Australia, Burke and Hulse (2002) indicated that “sole parents are arguably the
most disadvantaged group” (p. vi) and are more likely than other types of
households to live in poverty. Again, they found that these sole parent families
are predominantly headed by women who were not in the work force because of
childcare and support responsibilities.
Women are also at a higher risk of suffering from family violence, making up
roughly 85% or the victims of spousal violence (Chiodo et al., 2003). The
severity of the violence women face is also worse than for men who suffer abuse
or violence. For these situations, emergency and transitional housing is a key
component, after which accessing stable permanent housing becomes important
to re-establishing stability (SHS, 2005).7
As with other groups, the literature on victims of family violence and the housing
outcomes is sparse, when relating to the specific education, skills development
and employment outcomes that are the focus of this report.
Women face particularly difficult housing circumstances, and in major Canadian
cities there is an increasingly larger proportion of homeless women, including
women with children. Households headed by women are more likely to be
7
This is somewhat echoed in a CMHC report from 2000 (Women on the Rough Edge)
examining long-term homelessness in women, in which the lack of appropriate services for
homeless women is highlighted. See also CMHC 2004, Transitional Housing: Objectives,
Indicators of Success, and Outcomes.
18
renters and are disadvantaged in gaining access to home ownership, largely due
to affordability.8 When women are looking for housing, safety is an important
concern since, in some cases, women experience domestic violence in their
homes.
If women are able to find secure, affordable housing, their capacity to pursue
education and professional goals and ability to form supportive networks is
enhanced (Carter & Polevychok, 2004). This is supported by the research of
Johnson and Ruddock, who found that the stability afforded by adequate housing
was significant in aiding women to gain economic independence and help them
enter the workforce. However, they mention the issue of childcare as also being
an important element, one not considered within the context of our study.
While the above research does show some specific linkages between housing
and skills development and employment among women, the element of access
to adequate supportive service for single-parent households is something to
consider for future research.
• Children and Youth
The research in this area does point to some important conclusions about the
linkage between housing and education, skills development and employment.
The impact of low income families spending proportionately higher amounts of
their incomes on housing is felt by the children of these families, since less
money is available to send these children to summer camps, arts or sports
programs or to engage them in other activities that children in higher income
families have access to. This has long-term implications for the development of
these children (Canadian Council on Social Development, 2002).
In his discussion paper on housing affordability and children, Cooper states that
“inadequate housing directly affects child health and well-being, and spending a
large or disproportionate amount of income on housing means less money is
available for other necessities.” (Cooper, 2001, p.17). In discussing the problems
associated with finding affordable housing, Carter and Polevychok also point out
that children can end up in the care of the Children’s Aid Society when families
have problems paying rent, are evicted, have no permanent home, are transient,
live in a shelter, live in an overcrowded setting or live in housing below the basic
standard.
This issue of quality of housing, independent of the neighbourhood in which the
housing is placed, also impacts the psychological health of residents which, in
turn, impacts non-housing outcomes such as employment and education (Evans,
Wells & Moch, 2003). When children are homeless or living in slums or in noisy
or overcrowded accommodations, there are negative education impacts.
8
Almey, 1996; CMHC, 2002, 1997; Johnson and Ruddock, 2000
19
Children living in stable housing have the opportunity to secure a better
education in a stable environment (Carter & Polevychok, 2004). This is
analogous to the findings on stability and housing quality and educational
outcomes.
• Seniors
As with many other vulnerable groups, much has been written about the housing
needs of seniors, but few observations were found about the impact of housing
on education, skills development and employment. It may not be surprising there
is little research on this since most seniors do not make these elements a priority
at their stage of life as they are not usually seeking employment or education to
sustain their finances. Over the next 30 years, seniors are expected to increase
by 116% compared to 33% for the total population, meaning that by 2036 seniors
will represent one of every four people in the population, compared to 2004
where they represented one of eight (Carter and Polevychok, 2004). In 30 years,
Carter and Polevychok state that demand for seniors housing will increase by
117%, 140% for nursing homes and care facilities, and 115% for private
dwellings (assuming constant 1996 tenure patterns).
In 2001, according to Statistics Canada (2005) as cited in the PRI Project (2005),
senior renters were identified as being among the groups most likely to be living
in inadequate housing (approximately 43% in core housing need). This need is
especially high in urban areas such as Toronto where over 50% of renting
seniors were in core housing need. Hay (2005) points out that seniors have
multiple housing challenges including “affordability, safety, isolation,
maintenance, and so on” (p. 3).
In May 2004, a task force report on seniors had eight recommendations that
focused on providing housing and in-home supports to seniors. These include:
income supports, program flexibility to allow seniors to earn employment income,
expanding the federal role, and collaborative initiatives with community groups
and the private sector (Government of Canada, 2004).
While the above studies and references speak to the range of housing concerns
among the seniors population, they do not provide specific research on the
impacts of these problems on education, skills development or employment for
this population. For future research it would be important to evaluate what, if
any, relationships exist between seniors and the outcomes studied. Given that
many projections are showing that the next generation will be living longer,
healthier lives, and are already working longer into their “retirement years” than
the previous generation, such considerations could prove interesting. From the
literature review, it is clear that although there is a fair amount of research
regarding seniors populations, very little exists in terms of research examining
the links between housing, and education, employment and skills development
for senior populations.
20
• Recent Immigrants and Refugees
As with the other vulnerable groups which were identified, much research has
been undertaken examining the issue of housing for immigrants and refugees.
However, little research exists which specifically examines its impact on
education, skills development and employment.
In 2001, a Longitudinal Study of Immigrants to Canada was undertaken. It was
the first such longitudinal study since 1970. Research using this information is
currently underway to identify what is known about immigration and housing.
The government groups immigrants that arrive in Canada into the following
categories: Economic Class, Family Class, Protected Persons or Refugees.
Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are the three urban centres where almost
three-fourths of newcomers live (Wayland, 2007).
According to the 2001 Census, today’s immigrants are more likely to live in
poverty and depend on social services than were their predecessors and these
poor outcomes are reflected in their housing situations. It also highlighted that
36% of recent immigrants were living in core housing need, compared to 13.7%
for non-immigrant households. Those living in large metropolitan areas, renters,
and the most recent immigrants are those with the greatest core housing need.
Although most immigrants find housing quickly and 18% of them live in owneroccupied housing only six months after arrival (Mendez, Hiebert, Wyly, 2006),
there is wide variation in housing experiences correlated with immigration class,
country of origin and other variables (Wayland). According to Wayland’s
research, the biggest housing-related barrier immigrants face is affordability,
which is exacerbated by the declining availability of non-market or assisted
housing.
For new immigrants, finding adequate housing plays a key role in their ability to
integrate socially and to gain adequate employment. New immigrants settle
mainly in larger, high-cost, urban areas like Toronto and Vancouver making
housing affordability a major problem: “housing is an important reason why many
immigrants are poor” (Jackson, 2004, p. 53). The core housing need of recent
immigrant households is, on average, 4.7% higher than non-immigrant
households (PRI, 2005). Jackson (2004) cites research by CMHC (2003) which
identifies the fact that major issues for new immigrants are the scale of rents and
the affordability and adequacy of housing in big cities in Canada. Hulchanski
(1997) highlights discrimination problems reported by new immigrants when
searching for rental housing.
Immigrants’ access to adequate, affordable housing helps create the
circumstances and/or opportunities to access other formal and informal supports
and networks (Carter & Polevychok, 2004a). In an environmental scan of
21
immigrants and refugees, Douglas (2005) points out that immigrants and
refugees, as a group, are, at many levels, among the most marginalized in
Canadian society. She points out that the difficulty with finding affordable
housing impacts other areas of settlement for immigrants, including childhood
care, education and food security.
In a review of neighbourhood effects, Oreopoulos findings echoed those of the
previous authors. He found that many recent immigrants to Canada live in highpoverty neighbourhoods, starting out in poor immigrant enclaves, but then
usually move on to more affluent neighbourhoods where their population share
scarcely differs from that of the city as a whole” (2005, p. 8). Thus, Canadian
high-poverty neighbourhoods are more often home to recent immigrants than
their U.S. counterparts, with most of these residents moving out of the
neighbourhoods within five years. Interestingly, Tremblay et al’s research found
that neighbourhoods with a high proportion of recent immigrants had slightly
higher educational performance than neighbourhoods that did not. These
findings are all quite interesting, but suggest more work needs to be done on
assessing the impact of housing on immigrants during their initial settlement
period.
Mendez, Hiebert and Wyly (2006) point out that, while more research is being
undertaken to look at the varied housing experiences of immigrants entering
Canada through different categories of admission, more complete research is
needed. They also identify a problem with much of the research since the
studies rely on different methodologies, making it impossible to undertake
systematic, comparative analysis of the relationship between housing conditions
and admission class. Most lacking, according to the researchers, is information
about housing experiences of newcomers in their first six months in Canada.
• Housing and Homeless Populations
Housing and homelessness is a complex issue, especially as it encompasses
those that are homeless, and those that are at risk of homelessness. Here
again, while much has been written about the reasons for homelessness, the
literature provides little specific research about the impact of housing on the
education, skills development and employment of this population. The PRI
Project (2005) defines homelessness as “a state of instability and exclusion from
physical capital that can be a product of persistent poverty and that accentuates
the negative effects of that socio-economic situation” (p. 4). The authors also
cite Begin et al. (1999) who define homelessness as a “state of being that is not
a characteristic of an individual but is rather a life situation that may be
temporary, periodic, or more or less permanent” (p. 4). Hulchanski (2005) states
“what we call homelessness is not simply a housing problem, but it is always a
housing problem” (2005a, p. 3).
22
The process of becoming homeless consists of many stages and affects a wide
range of people, including families with children. The process is complex, nonlinear and unpredictable, often combining concurrent issues such as substance
abuse, family or sexual violence, or mental illness. This combination of issues
makes examining, and effectively dealing with the issues of the homeless
population particularly challenging. Those who are at risk of becoming homeless
are those families and individuals with formal shelter but in precarious
circumstances.
What plays a major role in the complex process of homelessness is housing
affordability. According to Hulchanski (2005b), before the 1980s, homeless
people living in Canada were largely men, irregularly employed, generally
transient, detached from their family homes and living in flophouses, rooming
houses and other low-cost, low-quality places. Homelessness increased in the
1980s and affected diverse groups of people with diverse problems who are
unable to find suitable, affordable housing.
The importance given to stable housing for homeless populations is evidenced
by endeavours such as Housing First, which prioritizes finding sustained or
stable housing for people first and foremost. After this, appropriate services are
made available. Few empirical studies were found that track the importance of
such programs, and initiatives like Housing First would greatly benefit from
studies into the outcomes of housing for homeless populations.
Hwang also indicates that homeless youth or street youth (the terms are used
interchangeably) refer to teenagers and young people below the age of 25.
Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have the largest numbers of homeless youth in
Canada and most of them do not sleep in homeless shelters. He also points out
that Aboriginal people are over-represented in the homeless population of
Canada by a factor of about 10, stressing that they also constitute a
disproportionate number of homeless people who sleep on the street instead of
shelters.
Josephson’s 2004 report indicated that, after a review of print and electronic
literature, little documented Canadian research existed that related housing and
homelessness to education and employment. He found that concrete theoretical
models relating education and employment to homelessness are rare in the
Canadian literature. He pointed out the need to use more empirical research
methods to direct future research and trial interventions in this domain, including
longitudinal and multi-site research methods.
As noted earlier, much of the existing research and literature relating to
vulnerable groups point to linkages between housing and education, skills
development, and employment. However, as shown above, there is little direct
research on how housing impacts specific vulnerable groups with respect to
societal outcomes of education, skills development and employment in Canada.
23
Sections Three and Four of this report will discuss methodologies through which
these research gaps can be addressed.
24
Family income / and
educational attainment
• Motor and social development;
neighbourhood affluence/ poverty;
family income; parent(s) education
level; neighbourhood family structure.
Education
Examples of Indicators Used
Neighbourhood affluence • Neighbourhood affluence; home
/ educational attainment
ownership rates; residential
stability/instability; achievement
scores; literacy of parents; median
family income; availability of books in
household.
25
• Overall, findings are somewhat inconclusive:
many authors stress that individual and family
characteristics cannot be completely discounted,
while others highlight incomplete knowledge of
these linkages.
• Some studies have pointed to higher family
educational attainment and income as associated
with educational outcomes. (Edwards, 2005;
Kohen & Hertzman, 1999; Peck, 2001)
• Other studies point to little or no effect of
neighbourhood affluence.
(Currie & Yelowitz, 1999; Jacob, 2003; Phibbs &
Young, 2005; Sanbonmatsu et al., 2004; U.S.
HUD, 2003)
Conclusion and Strength of Linkage
• Some studies have found positive educational
outcomes for students and children related to
neighbourhood affluence and level of
neighbourhood education. (Beauvais & Jenson
2003; Buck, 2001; Edwards, 2005; Ellen & Turner,
1997; Erebus, 2005; Jencks & Mayer, 1990;
Kohen & Hertzman, 1999 and with Brooks-Gunn
1998; Manski, 1993; Pebley & Sastry, 2003;
Tremblay et al. 2001)
• Noted as having a significant positive effect on
drop-out rates of female students. (Kling &
Liebman, 2004; Popkin, Leventhal & Weismann,
2006)
The following section summarizes the linkages that were identified in the literature, and, where possible, briefly discusses the
strength of the relationships that were found.
2.4 Summary of Identified Linkages
• Child education performance;
condition of housing; tenure; family
income; educational services;
Examples of Indicators Used
Housing Conditions
(physical characteristics:
overcrowding, density,
physical condition of
dwelling, noise levels,
etc).
Employment and Skills
Development
Tenure (owning versus
renting)
Employment and educational level.
• Success at school; family income;
labour force participation; tenure;
condition of home; civic engagement.
Tenure (owning versus
renting)
•
• Family income; number of family
moves; number of times children
changed schools; tenure type;
condition of housing.
Stability and Transience
26
• Lack of evidence and research showing clear
relationship between employment/skills
development and tenure.
• Tenure is more indicative of SES and employment
• Improved educational outcomes arise from
housing stability. (Braconi, 2001; Kohen,
Hertzman & Brooks-Gunn, 1998; Cooper, 2001)
• Number of moves can affect likelihood of
graduation and/or educational performance
(Braconi, 2001)
• Positive association with children’s educational
attainment and home ownership in several
studies. (Braconi, 2001; Bridge et al., 2007;
Crawford & Londerville, 2004; Curtis & Phipps,
2000; Mullins & Western, 2001a; Rossi & Webber,
1996; Steele & Sarker, 2005)
• Some studies point to negative aspects, or lack of
understanding of home ownership impacts for
low-income households. (Blunden, 2005;
Mendelson, 2006; Peck, 2001; Rohe, Van Zandt &
McCarthy, 2001)
• Strong evidence showing negative educational
impacts from aspects such as homelessness,
noisy homes, overcrowded dwellings, and living in
poor housing conditions.
(Braconi, 2001; Cooper, 2001, Mullins, Western &
Broadbent, 2001; Mullins & Western, 2001a;
Phibbs & Young, 2005)
• Evidence that good housing conditions are
important for children’s educational outcomes,
and can have repercussive effects (positive or
negative) in other areas such as health and
employment. (Evans, Wells & Moch, 2003)
Conclusion and Strength of Linkage
• Welfare receipt; neighbourhood
poverty rates; job accessibility as jobs
per job-seeker.
Spatial Inequalities
Neighbourhood affluence • Gender of household lead; level of
/ level of education
education; parental earnings; sibling
income comparisons over time; labour
market engagement
• Education level; skills level;
employment earnings.
Income structures and
rent
27
status than it is causative. (Blunden, 2005)
• Research has found a relationship between
income-related rent structures and disincentives
to work. Referred to as a “poverty trap” by some,
can penalize tenants for working, especially in
lower-paying jobs.
(Hulse & Randoph, 2004; Phibbs & Young, 2005;
Riccio, 2007)
• Review of Jobs-Plus program in the United States
highlighted positive outcomes for participants.
Especially strong outcomes for women who
participated in such endeavours. (Bloom, Riccio &
Verma, 2005; Johnson & Ruddock, 2000; Kramer,
2000)
• Housing location can have exclusionary effects on
employment: areas of low-employment usually
mean high-affordability, and areas of highemployment often have low-affordability. (Allard &
Danziger, 2003; Dodson, 2005; DTZ Consulting,
2006; Hulse & Randolph, 2004)
• Studies have highlighted that people are more apt
to work if situated closer to work opportunities.
(Allard & Danziger, 2003; Blunden, 2005; Ihlafeldt
& Sjoquist, 1998)
• A locational factor exists between housing and
employment, but authors stress that other factors
should also be studied in future work, such as
transportation accessibility and concentration of
poverty.
• Studies have found few effects, either positive or
negative, of high-poverty or low-poverty
neighbourhood on labour or employment.
(Buck, 2001; DTZ Consulting, 2006; Engeland &
Lewis, 200; Erebus, 2005; Levy & Woolley, 2007;
Oreopoulos, 2003; Mullins & Western, 2001a;
Stability
• Rental type (private or public); current
employment status; living
arrangement; education level; difficulty
in paying rent; factors affecting
decisions about employment;
difficulties in finding employment.
28
Phibbs & Young, 2001; U.S. HUD, 2003).
• Studies have found positive effects of stable
housing in unemployed tenants, inferring better
chances or outcomes in finding employment.
(Hulse & Randolph, 2004; Phibbs & Young, 2001)
• Some evidence points to stability having positive
effects for women, facilitating support networks
and aiding in accessing the workforce.
• (Johnson & Ruddock, 2000)
• Too little research on this issue at the moment to
conclusively relate stability and employment.
3. Methodological Approaches
Most of the studies in which the authors conducted literature reviews commented
that the findings to date are generally not based on rigorous research and
analysis. This was also highlighted in the study on The Evolution of Ideas about
the Relationship between Housing and Economic Development (Godwin, 2005),
which noted a problem with “the way in which the economic impact of housing
has been viewed, rather than the exact nature of that impact.”
The following Section addresses the methodological issues of the reviewed
literature from Phase One. Comments pertain primarily to the strengths and
weaknesses of methodologies, including the approach, the data and the reliability
of conclusions. A more complete discussion of the various methodologies can be
found in Appendix 1.
3.1 Methodologies and Data
A review of the research literature finds a broad range of methodologies and
analytical techniques utilized to better understand the linkages between housing
and education, skills development and employment outcomes. The strengths
and weaknesses of various approaches are assessed below.
3.1.1 Methodologies Reviewed
Most methodologies used in examining the linkage between housing and
education, employment and skills development revolve around informal
approaches such as literature reviews, opinion panels, and surveys. This
presents a particular challenge insofar as few of the studies referenced in the
literature incorporate in-depth statistical and analytical techniques, which can
cast doubts over the strength of the linkages highlighted in such studies.
This observation emphasizes the need for statistically-based analysis when
examining the existence or absence of such linkages. Multivariate analysis9 is an
important, almost necessary tool, enabling one to control for differences in nonhousing characteristics of the households. The methods by which this can be
achieved differ. The following briefly lists the range and key strengths and
weaknesses of the methodologies used in the studies reviewed during the first
phase of the present research:
•
Non-Experimental Studies
9
Multivariate analysis: “an approach widely used in marketing research due to the complexity of most
marketing problems, where several factors are operating together, when one wishes to estimate the
influence of each of the variables on the end result, e.g. in monitoring a test market, devising a media
schedule etc. Discriminant analysis and Factor Analysis are the two best known and widely used multivariate
techniques” (Baker, 2002).
29
•
–
–
–
Cross-sectional studies
Examines a single moment in time
Weakest for determining causation
Many limitations
•
–
Case-control studies
Examines cases exhibiting the studied behaviour, and identifying similar
groups (controls) who do not
Stronger than cross-sectional studies for demonstrating causation but
vulnerable to error
Valid results are dependent on the appropriate choice of the control group
–
–
•
–
–
–
Longitudinal studies
Cohort is identified and a variety of factors and baseline characteristics are
determined
Cohort is followed over time and the study population is monitored
Superior to either cross sectional or case-control studies in determining
causation
The majority of the studies reviewed were of non-experimental nature, many
being mixed method studies which used quantitative and qualitative data,
typically survey data. Another common methodology was the longitudinal study.
These types, when appropriately controlling for weaknesses or bias, were
generally methodologically sound. Many of the literature reviews involved a
review of such studies as part of the analysis,
•
Experimental Studies
•
–
Randomized control studies
Subjects are randomly assigned to receive or not receive the treatment of
interest
– Subjects are followed over time
– Best at determining evidence for a cause and effect relationship
– Practical and ethical problems when applied to housing and education,
skills development and employment
– Expensive and time-consuming to conduct
• “Natural” randomized studies
– Subjects “naturally” assigned to treatment group or not due to
administrative or policy-related decisions
– Promising, as they can generate data akin to that of a true experimental
study
– Can generate valid results
– Care must be exercised in ensuring that the groups truly are
distinguishable
30
The MTO and the HOPE IV research studies were the only ones reviewed based
on a true randomized control methodology. However, the work done by
Oreopoulos on public housing residents in Toronto is a good example of a natural
random assignment study. For an overview of the studies deemed most
methodologically sound and their findings, please see Appendix 3.
The findings of these studies are that there is little, or only a slight, linkage
between neighbourhood change and the outcomes of interest. It seems plausible
that other studies might show a stronger linkage, but these studies set a rigorous
baseline for testing of such linkages, both in the collection of data and in the
analysis of the results. They also set a baseline for testing of other linkages.
3.1.2 Available Methodologies and Data Sets: Challenges of Attributing
Outcomes to Housing
A more complete overview and discussion of the various available methodologies
was compiled by Phibbs and Young (2002), who identified the advantages and
disadvantages of five different empirical research designs that were used to
study the relationship between housing and non-housing outcomes. Their
description of these is contained in the table below:
Study Design
Advantages
Comparative study of
different communities
Results are more
immediate.
Relatively inexpensive.
Comparative study of
different groups e.g.
between housed and
homeless populations
Comparative study of
rehoused/nonrehoused groups10
Research
Limitations
Difficult to match the
socio-economic and
demographic
characteristics of the two
groups
Does not model the
process of providing
housing assistance
Sharp focus between
Matching the two groups
non-shelter benefits of
may be difficult
two groups.
Difficulty with isolating
Relatively short study.
the impact of housing
The two resident samples Improvements in housing
are likely to be more
quality may be
socio-economically
confounded by location
homogenous (although
effects.
there might still be some Only examines one type
bias issues).
of housing tenure (social
Relatively short study.
housing).
May be difficult to find a
large sample.
10
Where one group maintains the original housing, the other group is/has moved to higher quality
housing in another area.
31
Provide excellent insight
into the mechanisms that
generate costs and the
linkages between costs.
Can reveal the trigger
mechanism for the
additional costs of unmet
housing needs & act as
an educative tool for the
community and decision
makers.
Mirrors the activity of the
Longitudinal Study
provision of housing.
Provides the most
compelling evidence
especially for those not
familiar with social
science research
methods.
Sharp changes in
housing circumstances
provide the opportunity to
generate measurable
changes in non-shelter
benefits.
Can examine the nonshelter benefits of a
number of tenures (e.g.
private rental, public
housing, community
housing)
Source: (Phibbs, Kennedy and Tippett, 1999)
Case Studies
Difficult to extrapolate
community-wide or whole
of governmental costs
from individual case
studies.
Decision-makers looking
for traditional surveybased evidence may
resist findings from such
a study.
Relatively expensive.
If a prospective method is
used the study will need
to be reasonably long.
Only examines nonshelter benefits of those
who have been provided
with housing assistance.
Given this overview, the majority of studies reviewed which were deemed to be
methodologically sound (whether links were proven to be strong or not) were
empirically-based or were of a mixed method type.
Data and Data Sets
There are two types of data, experimental data and non-experimental data. The
“gold standard” (Steele, 2008) is experimental data.
•
Experimental Data
Experimental Data can be separated into two sub-types:
32
True Experimental∗
An example would be an experiment where half a group of renters is
randomly selected to be assigned a home they own, while paying the
same monthly amount they did as renters. The other half would stay as
renters. The first is the treatment group, the second is the control group.
Outcomes such as employment would be measured at different points of
time for both groups. The MTO study is a well known example of such
data collection and methodology.
The main problems with such experiments are their expense and the
complexity that can arise from controlling for many variables over time.
Using the above example, the control group might decide to purchase
homes over time, resulting in its attrition. It has also been stressed by
Marion Steele that such experimental data in the social sciences may be
far from the quality of data obtained in double-blind experiments as used
by science and medicine. Evidently the nature of each realm of study
does not lend itself to direct comparison, but rather because of these
differences the quality of the data and the efficacy of using such
experimental methods must be carefully considered.
Natural Experiment∗
This type of data would reflect a situation where, for example, for a policy
or administration reason one group is assigned a particular treatment
while another is not. Such natural experiments can hold promise of
generating data akin to true experimental, allowing for similarly powerful
results. The study done by Oreopoulos used data from a natural
experiment, in which public housing applicants in Toronto were randomly
offered units in various kinds of developments.
Such natural experiments are more apt to be used for the study of socialscience based issues such as housing, although they have their
drawbacks as well. This is true for the problem of self-selection (see
definition on following page), which can also cause similar problems of
attrition in a group. For example, if social housing applicants were
permitted to turn down offered units, those accepting co-op units might be
those with more initiative.
The two large randomized assignment studies, MTO and HOPE VI, are
methodologically sound, even though the findings were minimal regarding the link
between housing and educational outcomes. While the findings may not have
shed great light on anticipated linkages, such rigorous baselines are necessary in
setting a standard for the collection of data and analysis of the results.
∗
Steele, 2008.
33
• Non-experimental data
Almost all data used in economics and other social sciences are nonexperimental, often produced using randomized surveys carried out by agencies
such as Statistics Canada. The use of non-experimental data distinguishes the
social sciences from the natural sciences. There are a number of important
problems that one must bear in mind – whether the data are gathered in a
randomized survey or not - when modeling and estimating with such data. These
problems may exist whether cross-section or longitudinal data are used. They
are the following11:
•
Endogeneity, or the problem that the independent variable may itself be
affected by the dependent variable. For example, while whether or not a
person is a homeowner may positively affect the percentage of weeks in
the past year that the person was employed, this in turn may affect
whether or not the person is a homeowner: a person who has spent many
weeks this year unemployed may not be able to keep up his or her
mortgage payments and may switch to renting.
•
Self-selection bias. For example, the people who become homeowners
through the Habitat for Humanity program may be those low income
people with extraordinary initiative, ambition, and a strong work ethic.
These may be characteristics of desirable employees and those who will
perform well in school. Thus, when this program is found to have a
positive effect on educational outcomes, it may not be so much that the
program has a positive effect as that there is huge selection bias: the
people who select to participate may be the same kind of people who are
likely to do well in school.
Sometimes the self-selection problem can alternatively be called the
unobserved heterogeneity problem. This would be the case where there is
a sample of many individuals, some homeowners and some not, and the
aim is to determine the effect of home ownership on the education
outcomes of children. Some of the effect of home ownership in this case
may be the result of the fact that people who select to be homeowners
tend to be relatively competent and ready to plan ahead and these are
important characteristics of parents who have a positive effect on the
education of their children. This can also be called an unobserved
heterogeneity problem where the heterogeneity is the competence and
readiness to plan ahead of some, but not all, members of the sample. A
problem is caused because this characteristic is correlated with the
probability of being a homeowner.
•
11
Correlation or the problem that variables included in the model may be
correlated with variables excluded so that variables included in the model
Steele, 2008.
34
•
are picking up the effect of the excluded variables as well as their own
effects. For example, if age is not included in the model as well as home
ownership, then, since the probability of homeownership increases with
age, the home ownership variable may have a more positive effect on the
number of weeks worked than is attributable to home ownership per se.
This would happen if weeks worked increased with age—which is
probably true in a sample of people age 25 to 50.
However, the problems of using non-experimental data have attracted a lot of
attention from statisticians in the social sciences over the last few decades. First,
to deal with the correlation problem, it is now well appreciated that many
variables should be included in a model, i.e. that the model should be
multivariate. The other two problems are in principle less tractable, but
econometrics, which is statistics as applied to economic data, has as its major
concern, solving such problems. For example, Heckman has developed
methods to deal with biases in estimated effects caused by self selection (Steele,
2008). Econometrics has also developed methods to deal with endogeneity, a
major one being the use of instrumental variables12. Such developments in
econometrics and other social science statistical disciplines have meant that nonexperimental data can often be used to allow quite firm conclusions to be made.
3.2 What Data and Literature Gaps Exist?
A key problem, according to Pomeroy (2004), has been that the focus of
programs addressing housing needs in Canada has often looked at shelter
outcomes, “particularly quantitative measures of units produced” (p. 2). He
believes that a better assessment of how well housing investments are working
would be to monitor the impact of housing interventions on non-shelter outcomes.
This confirms the findings from Bridge et al (2003) in Australia, that there is a lack
of empirical evidence to be able to examine and measure the possible impacts.
“Without good data, ongoing research and a system of assessment, it is difficult
to clearly identify which programs and policies have the greatest impact and
payback for public investment” (p. 12).
The challenge that the lack of reliable data represents is clear, as it can
compromise the quality of the conclusions drawn from the results. In a 2007
paper, Riccio posits that, while a number of housing policy reforms have been
tried to promote residents’ self-sufficiency, little of the innovation in the field
(proposed or actual) is based on “credible evidence of “what works” making it
difficult to know “whether self-sufficiency strategies for assisted housing that
sound promising are really a good bet or a bad investment” (p. 1). Studies have
been done to suggest that these value-added innovations are effective, yet these
remain mainly descriptive, non-experimental studies that have data and/or
12
Instrumental variables: If a right hand side (RHS) variable is endogenous, an instrumental
variable may be used to overcome econometric problems. (Steele, 2008)
35
methodological limitations, making it difficult to draw conclusions about their
impact.
Riccio argues the need for a stronger base of evidence through the use of
randomized controlled trials in the housing-employment policy arena in order to
enable the development of evidence-based policy.
In their paper Building Capacity: Enhancing Women’s Economic Participation
Through Housing, Johnson and Ruddock (2004) point out that there are few
resources that specifically connect the importance of housing to the employment
of women, despite the fact that there are vast amounts of literature about women
and housing, and women and employment. There is wide acceptance that the
connection needs to be made, but there exists little research available
demonstrating the link.
Neighbourhood effects have different impacts on individuals at different stages in
their lives (Ellen and Turner, 1997).13 While several ethnographic studies14 have
been done to look at neighbourhood influence on infants and preschool children,
Ellen and Turner stress that few quantitative studies exist to show the extent to
which early childhood development is influenced by neighbourhood context.
They also identify the need for research that includes the impact of “teachers,
classmates, coaches and the parents and families of classmates and friends” (p.
849) on elementary school children. They believe that the neighbourhood
environment plays an increasingly important role during a child’s elementary
school years.
Since adolescents spend more time with their peers and less time with their
families, this is a time when the neighbourhood environment is most compelling
(Ellen and Turner, 1997). Again, many studies have been undertaken to explore
what impact this may have on various elements of adolescent life; however, Ellen
and Turner point out that “few studies in any of these areas effectively control for
the endogeneity of neighbourhood location” (p. 853). Although this latter element
is likely due to weaknesses in study design, it does impact the quality of the data
collected.
13
One possible method of examining these issues would be to use a life course approach, see
section 4.1.4
14
Ethnography is a form of research focusing on the sociology of meaning through close field
observation of sociocultural phenomena. Typically, the ethnographer focuses on a community
(not necessarily geographic, considering also work, leisure, and other communities), selecting
informants who are known to have an overview of the activities of the community. Such
informants are asked to identify other informants representative of the community, using chain
sampling to obtain a saturation of informants in all empirical areas of investigation. Informants are
interviewed multiple times, using information from previous informants to elicit clarification and
deeper responses upon re-interview. This process is intended to reveal common cultural
understandings related to the phenomena under study. These subjective but collective
understandings on a subject (ex., stratification) are often interpreted to be more significant than
objective data (ex., income differentials). (Garson, 2006)
36
In looking at studies related to the effects of neighbourhood on adults, Ellen and
Turner indicate that most of these studies emphasize the importance of physical
distance, rather than social composition, when looking at the relationship
between neighbourhood residence and the labour market. They conclude that
the impact of neighbourhood influences on adult outcomes may not be that great,
based on their review of the literature. However, they go on to say that this
conclusion may be based on the fact that “less work has been done exploring
neighbourhood influences on adult outcomes” (p. 854).
In addition, Ellen and Turner identify a gap in the empirical research literature
studying the impact that living in a high-crime neighbourhood has on the
emotional and moral development of young children, as well as on the risk of
individuals becoming involved in criminal activity.
Conclusions regarding tenure-types are mixed, and more studies examining
tenure and societal outcomes would greatly benefit overall housing knowledge.
Homeownership is not “necessarily an assured road to riches, or even to a
moderately improved level of wealth, for all low-income families” (Mendelson,
2006, p.36). Rohe, Van Zandt, and McCarthy (2001) indicated that little is known
about “the social-psychological or economic impacts of mortgage payment stress
or mortgage default; that is, the role of home ownership in potentially trapping
persons in neighbourhoods that they would rather leave; and the relationship
between home ownership and efforts to exclude minorities, renters and others
from neighbourhoods” (p. 25).
These issues of tenure-type and outcomes are of significant interest as many of
the findings do point to a correlation between places, such as neighbourhoods,
and positive outcomes for those living there. However, as Mendelson
commented on his findings, the outcomes may cause us to re-evaluate certain
assumptions: in his case the vision of the house as an almost certainly good
investment.
Finally, as was discussed in Section Two, there are large knowledge gaps
regarding the impacts of housing on vulnerable groups. The greatest lack of
knowledge pertains to Aboriginals, seniors, homeless populations and recent
immigrants and refugees. Some research has been carried out on women and
single-parent households, as well as children and youth, but it is clear that more
needs to be done.
37
4. Addressing Weaknesses and Filling the Gaps: Future
Avenues
As was discussed in the previous Section, much has been written, often by the
authors themselves, as to how to address the issues of weaknesses in
methodology and data collection or simply data availability. There is more to
addressing these issues, as there are other important factors to consider, such
as fostering research and ensuring adequate financial support, especially for
larger studies such as the randomized assignment and longitudinal sample types.
The following Section examines these issues, as well as discussing avenues to
help future research on the linkages between housing and education,
employment, and skills development.
4.1 Strengthening Methodologies and Data Collection
Although many of the current methodologies are sound, there are certain issues
regarding the choice of analytical models, as well as definitions that have been
highlighted as areas for improvement.
4.1.1 Defining the Issues
One of the challenges in examining variables such as the housing impacts on
non-housing elements is the definition of exactly what constitutes such variables.
In the case of neighbourhoods, it was previously stressed that the term itself
encompasses a wide variety of elements which can vary greatly, and defining a
neighbourhood is ultimately a subjective process (Hulchanksi, 2007). This issue
of defining, or redefining neighbourhood boundaries was highlighted by several
authors, including Ellen and Turner (1997), who used American census tracts,
but indicated that this data may not accurately represent the neighbourhood
conditions that impact people’s lives.
In Canada, contrary to Ellen and Turner’s opinion for the U.S., Hulchanski’s
conclusions in his recent study of income segregation in Toronto were that
census tracts in Canada were generally a good proxy from which to study various
neighbourhood level issues and outcomes. Statistics Canada’s use of the
census tract as a neighbourhood proxy in its study on neighbourhood influences
should also be noted. Many of the neighbourhood based studies rely on the
census tracts as such proxies, and there appears to be a consensus on their
reliability.
Ellen and Turner’s empirical research into how neighbourhoods affect families
and children in America, pointed out that there is little empirical evidence about
38
“the causal mechanisms through which neighbourhood environment influences
individual outcomes” (p. 833). This indicates the need for future empirical
research to take on the critical question of how and for whom neighbourhood
matters in order to be useful to policy makers. They do note, however, that
efforts to identify which neighbourhood characteristics matter most and to
quantify their importance for their residents have been inconclusive overall.
While educational attainment and employment may be influenced by
neighbourhood conditions, most of the empirical research focuses on one of
these outcomes at a time.
They also supported the importance of using more than a “point-in-time measure”
to study neighbourhood effects. The researchers point out that most of the
empirical research they reviewed assumed that there is a linear relationship
between neighbourhood characteristics and individual outcomes and nonlinearities are not tested for in many studies. They cite Crane (1991), who shows
that neighbourhood effects operate like epidemics in how they spread, essentially
saying that the prevalence of social problems should be much greater in areas
that have experienced an increase in the incidence of the problem.
Canadian studies have also pointed out the need to clearly differentiate between
what are assumed to be reasonable outcomes, and what is done within the study
itself to account for various elements (Statistics Canada, 2004; 2003; Ross et al.,
2000). In many cases, the conclusions point to the importance of
neighbourhoods for some outcomes, such as health (Dunn et al.,2006), but in
others the authors cautioned that such linkages are not “automatic”, being
mitigated by other factors (Ross et al., 2000, p.898).
According to Sampson, Morenhoff and Gannon-Rowley, defining neighbourhoods
based on census tracts or higher geographical aggregations is problematic when
studying social processes. Since what happens in a neighbourhood is influenced
not only by what happens in the immediate neighbourhood, but also by what
happens in surrounding areas, their discussion included expanding
neighbourhood research data collection to nearby areas outside the formal
boundaries of a given neighbourhood. This has been echoed by some research
at Statistics Canada, indicating that using census tracts may attenuate some
associations, since “they may not coincide with residents’ perceptions of
neighbourhoods” (2003, p.27). The caveat being that lower-level data, such as
enumeration areas are not always possible to use.
By focusing only on outcomes internal to a given neighbourhood, researchers are
only getting part of the story of what influences non-housing outcomes.
Sampson et al. suggest that these spatial dynamics are another way to measure
child well-being, among other factors. The use of a “geography of street
patterns” (referred to as tertiary communities15) is suggested when looking at
15
The authors are referring to work by Grannis that examined micro-boundaries within
neighbourhoods. These “tertiary communities” are essentially aggregates of city blocks not
bisected by major thoroughfares: this work highlighted, for example, how some residents
39
child well-being, since there are spatial constraints on children’s daily activity
patterns, such as not crossing major roads in a neighbourhood. Neighbourhood
indicators of child well-being and social processes could be developed based on
these tertiary communities.
Of particular concern to them is the use/misuse of control variables when
studying neighbourhood effects which, they believe, may partition out “relevant
variance in a host of mediating and developmental pathways of influence” (p.
469) since they provide a static model of measurement. According to the
researchers, there are long-term community influences on non-housing outcomes
that cannot be measured by controlling variables in the context of current
neighbourhood characteristics of residence. “The general misuse of control
variables in sociology thus appears to be exacerbated in the case of
neighbourhood effects” (p. 469).
They also warn against looking only at the characteristics of someone’s place of
residence when trying to determine neighbourhood effects. They point out that
many of the behaviours of interest take place outside of the neighbourhood in
which these individuals reside. They suggest that “contextual theories that focus
more on behavioural events than individual differences – for example, how
neighbourhoods fare as units of guardianship or socialization over their own
public spaces” (p. 469) should be utilized to measure neighbourhood effects.
Ellen and Turner believe that individual and family characteristics need to be
adequately controlled for in studies on neighbourhood effects in order to collect
accurate data. While some individual and family characteristics are readily
observable, such as income, education, and race, other relevant characteristics
are harder to observe and are therefore not captured in empirical research. If
these unobserved family characteristics are not adequately controlled for in
research studies, empirical results may overstate the effects of neighbourhood.
They cite the Moving to Opportunity program as “perhaps the ideal way to deal
with unobserved family effects” (p. 847).
This discussion highlights the fact that the current definition of what constitutes a
“neighbourhood” is a difficult decision due to its subjective nature as Hulchanski
stated. The current knowledge on housing outcomes, which does point to
neighbourhood effects, also shows that “neighbourhoods” themselves may not be
as big a factor as previously thought. Rather, it would seem that the various
elements themselves come together, in some cases differently: Ross et al.
highlighted such a difference between Canada and the United-States regarding
income inequality and mortality. Their study showed that such effects in Canada
are not as significant as in America, these differences indicating that other factors
interacted more with people living within their tertiary community than others nearby, but were on
the other side of a major thoroughfare, or other such obstacle.
40
such as the spatial distribution of social and economic resources may be of
greater importance.
Thus, the definition of neighbourhood may need to be revised to include other
factors that were not attributed to it previously. Such factors include the
individual characteristics mentioned by Ellen and Turner, as well as the wider
geographical boundaries that Sampson, Morenhoff and Gannon-Rowley
mentioned. This would of course bring its own set of challenges and
complications, and would not be without its own difficulties, for example
controlling for environmental and individual variables. However, an updated
definition of neighbourhood would likely help in better understanding the complex
series of relationships that exists within them, and that shape their communities.
Such a vision will also help in re-evaluating certain assumptions regarding the
effects of neighbourhoods.
As research further develops on these issues, care and attention must be given
to “how and for whom” neighbourhoods matter as Ellen and Turner stated. The
complexities of what constitutes a neighbourhood and how the individuals fit into
this context will help guide better, more accurate research.
4.1.2 Analytical Models
The following section highlights some of the analytical models that appear to
work better than others for measuring and examining the issues considered
within the context of this paper.
Experimental Models
True experimental, randomized control studies are one of the best methods for
collecting and analyzing reliable data. As was shown in the MTO and HOPE VI
studies, they can conclusively show the presence or absence of a cause and
effect type of relationship. However, their cost can often be prohibitive, and may
not represent the best use of limited funding for housing research.
In order to measure the effectiveness of work-focused interventions for
individuals receiving various forms of housing assistance, Riccio (2007) suggests
that randomized controlled trials provide a credible way to learn whether a social
intervention is successful in producing its intended effects. However, Riccio
states that random assignment is only a foundation for studying these effects. In
addition, he cites the need for including a “comprehensive evaluation strategy
with several strands of research, such as (1) an impact analysis, (2) an
implementation and process analysis, and (3) a benefit-cost analysis” (p. 20).
An effective impact analysis would use data collected from administrative records
and surveys of residents and the impact would be measured by identifying the
difference in an outcome between the program and control groups. Specified
41
subgroup analyses would result in being able to identify whether the
effectiveness of an intervention is similar for different types of residents. Given
the heterogeneity of assisted housing families and the dynamics of their lives,
this type of analysis is important.
An effective implementation and process study would be able to identify and
assess how and how well the intervention model was implemented and the
challenges associated with operationalizing the concept of the intervention. This
type of study uses data drawn from qualitative field research and quantitative
data received from agency records and surveys of residents. The results from
both the impact and process analyses are incorporated into a cost-benefit study
in order to estimate the resources used by the program and the economic
outcomes it generates. Analysis of the return on investment includes looking at
government budgets, taxpayers and the gains and losses to the program’s
participants.
Riccio warns that care must be taken to ensure that the interventions in random
assignment studies are carried out as designed and that common conditions
exist at the sites where the experiment is carried out. The random assignment
process must also be implemented correctly in the field, which includes on-going
monitoring. An adequate sample size is also necessary to determine if observed
program effects are statistically significant and to be able to measure the impact
of the program on a variety of different subgroups. Riccio identifies multisite
studies as important for being able to assess whether the intervention can work
in a variety of settings.
Sobel (2006) confirms the importance of random assignment studies and
supports Ricco’s contention that in a randomized study, the number of sites
involved needs to be large enough to ensure that more precise causal
parameters can be estimated. He also notes that it is important to collect data on
social interactions before individuals are assigned to different groups in a
randomized study to ensure that participants can be partitioned into equivalent
classes with no direct social interactions, and treatments can be randomly
assigned to these classes.
The issue of interference and bias is also taken up by Sampson, Morenhoff and
Gannon-Rowley in their 2002 meta-analysis16 of quantitative studies published in
peer-reviewed or behavioural science journals. In their analysis, the authors
identify selection bias as the biggest challenge facing neighbourhood-level
research. While empirical studies such as Moving to Opportunity were designed
to randomly assign families to one of three groups, there were differential take-up
rates and dropouts from the program that impacted the results of these studies.
They conclude that “while MTO may provide policy makers with evidence on
whether offering housing vouchers can improve the lives of poor children, it is
16
“Meta-analysis is a statistical technique for amalgamating, summarizing, and reviewing
previous quantitative research.” (Neill, 2006)
42
less satisfactory to social scientists interested in explaining the mechanisms of
neighbourhood effects” (p. 467).
Self-selection bias is identified by Rohe, Van Zandt and McCarthy (2001) in their
study of the social benefits and costs of home ownership. They indicate that
there is a significant threat to the validity of most of the research done on the
impacts of home ownership because of the self-selection of people into home
ownership and rental occupancy. They identify statistical techniques that can
help account for the self-selection problem such as a two-stage modeling
technique developed by Heckman (1979) that can be used to predict who
becomes a homeowner based on social and economic characteristics. An
independent variable is then developed based on the prediction to capture the
effect of the selection bias in the primary regression model. They also point out
that longitudinal research designs can address the self-selection problem since
they allow the measurement of key variables before and after subjects become
homeowners, enabling temporal sequences17, which are important in establishing
causality. Haurin et al.’s 2002 paper on homeownership and child outcomes did
employ a methodology that corrected for self-selection bias within their study by
separately estimating the tenure choice of the parents, and the child outcomes
which enables self-selection bias to be identified and corrected for.
Mixed-Method Models
In looking at causal mechanisms that link neighbourhood conditions to individual
outcomes, Ellen and Turner (1997) suggest that qualitative methods “offer a
promising approach for opening up the black box of neighbourhood effects” (p.
858). These qualitative methods include such approaches as in-depth, long-term
participant observation in a neighbourhood, open-ended interviews with individual
residents, and focus group interviews. While they point out that qualitative
research can’t answer all questions about the possible influence of
neighbourhoods on non-housing outcomes, it supplements quantitative research
in critical ways by helping to disentangle neighbourhood effects from family and
individual characteristics. “In conjunction with more generalizable results from
quantitative analysis, qualitative research can both suggest hypotheses for
further investigation and provide explanations for statistically significant results”
(p. 859).
One way to bridge the imbalance between the quantitative and qualitative
approach to gathering data related to the interactions between housing and
communities is through mixed-methods studies. Ellen and Turner (1997)
identified such studies, combining both quantitative and qualitative measures, as
a promising approach to the study of how and why neighbourhoods matter. Such
an approach might help in furthering a conceptual framework for understanding
how people’s behaviour and life chances are affected by neighbourhood
17
Temporal sequence: the logical order of causal event to occur (GMI, 2008)
43
characteristics: neighbourhood environments likely impact residents in different
ways at different stages in their lives.
Like Sampson, Morenhoff and Gannon-Rowley (2002), Ellen and Turner identify
a number of contributing factors of neighbourhood life that might influence the
outcomes of residents. These include:
•
•
•
•
•
•
Quality of local services
Socialization by adults
Peer influences
Social networks
Exposure to crime and violence
Physical distance and isolation
A good example of this, on a micro scale, was highlighted in research done by
Jeff May (2007) on the connectivity of Toronto social housing residents to various
social service connections. Although the number of residents interviewed was
small (18 in total), the results were nonetheless very interesting, highlighting most
importantly the significant informal support networks that residents created for
themselves, between themselves. Regarding employment and employment
resources, the residents’ concerns had more to do with the low-wages of
available jobs as opposed to the availability of the jobs themselves. Most of them
made little use of the formal employment centres, mostly due to a lack of
knowledge. The study could not account for larger neighbourhood effects within
its scope, and could not examine empirically-based factors. However, it does
beg the question, in this case and in the context of the present study, of what
could have been a greater influence on employment: the neighbourhood effects,
or those of the informal structures or other factors.
Longitudinal Models
Longitudinal studies are another excellent method, highlighted by several
authors. Phibbs and Young point out that a longitudinal design is the preferred
design to study the relationship between housing and non-housing outcomes.
This approach should also incorporate a number of detailed case studies using a
qualitative approach. Case studies assist in the framing of questions in the
quantitative component of the study and in developing causal explanations.
Sampson, Morenhoff and Gannon-Rowley also identify the need for “rigorous
longitudinal studies of neighbourhood temporal dynamics” (p. 472). Because
neighbourhoods change over time and are sometimes transformed, it is important
for researchers to ensure that neighbourhood social processes are investigated
in a “dynamic, interactive fashion”.
44
Other Models
Buck (2001) has pointed out that there are a number of different models that
researchers have used to identify causal influences of neighbourhoods on nonhousing outcomes. Outlined below is a brief description of these models:
• Epidemic model – behaviour is thought to be contagious. Peer influences
spread problem behaviour and different groups in the neighbourhood
influence local social norms.
• Collective socialization model – more successful adults provide positive
role-models and are an important component of a child’s socialization.
• Institutional model – the quality of services available in a neighbourhood
impact on neighbourhood non-housing outcomes
• Relative deprivation model – there is a reverse effect on non-housing
outcomes when less successful people compare themselves to more
successful people living in the same neighbourhood – these individuals
fare worse in such situations.
• Competition model – neighbours compete for scarce neighbourhood
resources.
• Network model – has an application to employment access. Effects arise
from the presence of more affluent neighbours having a positive impact on
neighbours who are less affluent.
While the above models can be specified, discriminating them has practical
difficulties. Buck points out the need to give careful attention to the selection of
dependent and independent variables when researchers are studying the effects
of a neighbourhood on non-housing outcomes. He cites a framework developed
by Manski (1993) to identify the effects of social interactions which are separated
into three types of influence:
•
•
•
Endogenous effects – the prevalence of certain behaviours in the group
explains the propensity of an individual to behave the same way.
Exogenous (contextual) effects – individual behaviour varies with the
distribution of background characteristics in a group.
Correlated effects – because individuals have similar institutional
environments or have similar characteristics, they tend to behave similarly.
Because people are influenced by their context at the same time as they
influence the context, it is difficult, under normal circumstances, to separate these
various influences in order to measure them.
Another methodological issue identified by Buck includes a “standard omittedvariable problem” or correlation problem which occurs since “the existence of
important unmeasured characteristics at the individual-level variables or arealevel variables may lead to biases in the estimates of area influences” (p. 2256).
Buck also identifies the fact that people, in general, choose their neighbourhoods
as another key methodological problem making it difficult to avoid bias based on
45
an individual’s unobservable characteristics that have influenced their choice of
neighbourhood and outcomes. He also points out that the effects of
neighbourhood can be mediated and moderated by actions taken by individuals
or families, making it difficult to be able to identify true neighbourhood effects on
non-housing outcomes.
Because there are a number of different models to account for neighbourhood
effects, Buck points out the need for care when including neighbourhood
characteristics in any model. Buck identifies the following issues when studying
neighbourhood effects: there may be non-linear associations between area
characteristics and some outcome; the spatial scale at which neighbourhood
effects are likely to operate must be considered; and using a uni-dimensional
measure of area quality oversimplifies the analysis since there are a variety of
possible causal pathways that lead to neighbourhood effects.
Buck (2001) points out the limitations of non-experimental quantitative methods
used to measure the impact of non-housing outcomes but also cautions that
qualitative and experimental research also has limitations such as the possibility
of participation effects and costs associated with experimental studies. He
indicates that in the UK, better data at both individual and area levels, used to
separate out level effects, and data properly related to plausible models of
outcomes would provide effective ways to measure effects. He also suggests
collecting data about migration and preferences. However, Buck reiterates the
fact that, “individuals interact with their neighbourhoods in complex ways which
may in the end make it difficult to disentangle the individual from the area either
conceptually or in terms of data” (p. 2258).
4.1.3 Data and Data Sets
The biggest problem hindering the research which was reviewed was the
weaknesses and issues relating to data. In some cases, authors pointed out that
this was due to a lack of recent, up-to date information. In other cases,
researchers pointed out the use of incomplete data. Some of these issues arise
from the relative expense of some research methodologies, such as the
randomized control models like MTO and HOPE VI. In some studies, even
methodologically sound work such as Phibbs and Young’s 2005 paper, Housing
Assistance and Non-Shelter Outcomes, the issue was that they were only able to
obtain a small sample size.
In order to address such data gaps in Canada, Pomeroy (2004) suggests that
there is a need for a more frequent collection of larger samples of data by
Statistics Canada to be able to measure specific housing issues. Publication of
this information should be produced in a timely manner. Pomeroy also identifies
the need to broaden the indicators related to housing need measures to include
non-housing outcomes.
46
Empirically-based research on non-shelter outcomes, according to Pomeroy,
would enable more effective policy analysis and program design to help improve
impacts and outcomes. By increasing the availability of data and identifying the
need for information, Pomeroy believes academic interest and the development
of research expertise would be generated. This research would provide added
perspective and public debate about appropriate housing policies and ensure
that there continues to be ongoing development of expertise of housing
professionals.
Longitudinal data sets
A huge advantage of longitudinal data sets is the ability to follow persons and
households through time. Two datasets include, for example, the National
Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY), used in the studies by
Curtis and Phipps in 2001, and the Survey of Labour Income and Dynamics
(SLID), one of many datasets used in Steele and Sarker.
These datasets would be fertile ground for housing analysis, but some warnings
are in order. First, both datasets, especially SLID, have a limited number of
housing variables. However, Statistics Canada has added additional housing
variables to SLID. Secondly, SLID and NLSCY survey a given sample of people
for a limited number of years. Finally, the number of observations may not be
large enough to mean that there are enough remaining once a sample is
selected, for example, to focus on only those households who switched tenure in
the first year or two of the sample periods (Marion Steele, 2008).
The Longitudinal Administrative Database (LAD)
The LAD is a dataset based on data taken from income tax returns, with
additional variables added. It has a large number of observations. In provinces
where there are property tax credits (e.g. Ontario) home ownership status would
be available for a large number of observations. Many other variables are
available on this database in addition to the income tax data. A major advantage
of this database is that it is possible to follow a given individual for many years.
Where housing outcomes of interest are long term, such as number of years
contributing to the Canadian Pension Plan (an indicator of employment) the
length of time individuals are followed in LAD is a distinct advantage.
Cross-section data sets
Cross-section public use microdata files (PUMFs) have been produced by
Statistics Canada for over three decades. Among these are ones based on the
Census and the Survey of Household Spending, and General Social Surveys
(GSS). These include numerous housing variables. Their use to demonstrate
cause and effect linkages on the outcomes of interest is limited by the fact they
47
refer mainly to a single point in time. However, it should be remembered that
there are some retrospective variables in these data sets: for example, whether
or not a household has moved in the last five years, number of weeks worked in
the last year, and tenure of previous dwelling are all variables which have been
included of these data sets.
A major strength of these data sets is that there are a very large number of
potential observations, as well as a large number of housing variables.
Nonetheless, there are limitations on the usefulness of these kinds of data sets,
and so Statistics Canada now produces longitudinal data sets.
Another solution is to re-examine the use of cross-section data sets given their
potential to provide instrumental variables to ameliorate endogeneity bias. Such
instrumental variables are likely to have a small geographical dimension (e.g. a
mean for a Census Tract) and their linkage to an individual would likely require
the use of one of the secure Research Data Centres (RDCs) of Statistics
Canada. It seems likely that the usefulness of these data sets for housing
outcomes analysis is greater now than it used to be, because of the great range
of data available through the RDC, and in any case these data have never been
fully exploited. For example, although Steele and Sarker used GSS data, the
scope of their project—considering a vast range of possible costs and benefits of
home ownership—and a limited budget precluded doing full multivariate modeling
of a few possible outcomes. Revisiting the data they used with more time spent
developing models with additional independent variables and possibly using
instrumental variables would be worthwhile.
The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC)
Mendez, Hiebert, and Wyly (2006) have undertaken to answer a number of
research questions in their 2006 study using the Longitudinal Survey of
Immigrants to Canada (LSIC). The authors point out that only the results of the
first wave data are included in their study since second-wave data had not been
released at the time of their study. Renaud, et al. (2006) also indicate that, with
the release of second-wave data, additional research can be undertaken to look
at the movement of immigrants in the “medium term” after they have spent more
time in the country. They indicate that data from subsequent waves of the LSIC
will enable researchers to “see whether the mechanisms observed are
maintained, whether some are peculiar to the beginning of settlement, or whether
other dynamics emerge after a certain time has passed” (p. 78).
The limitations of the LSIC have been pointed out by Mendez, Hiebert, and Wyly.
They indicate that, compared to the census, the LSIC has a small sample size
which limits statistical study at fine levels of disaggregation and geographic scale.
The LSIC includes only immigrants who were legally admitted and arrived in
Canada during the survey period. Asylum claimants and refugees accepted
through an asylum claim were excluded from the sampling frame of the survey.
48
They also discuss the potential under-reporting in the income and earnings
questions in the survey and the problems with the methods used by Statistics
Canada to predict the missing variable for non-responders.
However, the LSIC does enable researchers to address some of the
methodological obstacles faced earlier when studying housing and immigration in
Canada. The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC) is the first
survey of its kind for a generation (Mendez, Hiebert & Wyly, 2006, Renaud, et al,
2006). The LSIC provides a range of variables not included in the census which
includes the housing search experience of immigrants, housing mobility, reasons
for changing residence, newcomers’ socio-economic situation, motivations for
immigration, labour market participation, integration barriers, access to health
care and education, and settlement support sought and received from institutions
and social networks. This data lends itself to future studies related to the housing
situation of Canadian immigrants (Marion Steele, 2008). LAD was used by
Oreopolous to determine the earnings outcomes of those who lived in Toronto
public housing when they were teenagers.
Methodological Notes of Caution
The use of proxies, such as the poverty rate or average income levels, to study
neighbourhood effects has been questioned. Ellen and Turner have indicated
that such proxies may not accurately reflect those neighbourhood characteristics
that are most important, and therefore would not enable policy makers to
determine what interventions to target. They have also pointed out the extreme
difficulty, if not impossibility, of differentiating different neighbourhood effects
because of their high correlation.
Another note of caution relates to the use of census data that “document
neighbourhood-level correlations between percent recent immigrants and various
measures of social problems (e.g., poverty, reliance on social assistance, low
educational attainment, etc.) mistakenly infer individual-level relations from
aggregate data” (Mendez, Hiebert and Wyly, 2006, p. 84). This highlights the
point that assumptions based on this use of aggregate census tabulations mean
that conclusions in this body of work are “tied to a variety of risky ecological
assumptions” (Ibid., p. 84).
In a 2006 paper, Sobel points out the importance of taking into account the
possibility of interference when undertaking empirical research, such as the
research carried out for the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program. He identifies
conclusions reached about these studies based on the “stable unit treatment
value assumption (SUTVA)” which assumes that “the potential responses of units
do not depend on the mechanism by which treatments are assigned or on the
treatment received by another unit, i.e., there is no-interference between units”
(p. 1398). Sobel identifies the fact that in studies with human subjects, social
interaction is a primary source of interference. He describes the method by
49
which volunteers were recruited for the project, where many people who were
recruited from group meetings would undoubtedly know one another. Sobel
indicates the need to define effects when interference is present when
undertaking empirical research.
Finally, regarding the impacts of home ownership, Rohe, VanZandt and
McCarthy (2001) have stressed the need for future research to do a better job
controlling for alternative explanations for the relationships found. In addition,
future research should strive to better identify the mechanisms through which
home ownership influences various social variables. In addition, future research
should strive to better identify the mechanisms through which home ownership
influences various social variables.
The researchers also found that much of the existing research on the impacts of
home ownership does not recognize that the home ownership experience may be
different for different types of home buyers, or for those who buy in different
neighbourhoods or housing markets. They believe that there may be a bias,
particularly on the part of American researchers, toward testing for evidence of
purported positive impacts of home ownership.
4.1.4 Considerations for Indicators of Housing and Education, Skills
Development and Employment Impacts
It is also important in the assessment of how to address the weaknesses and
gaps present in current research to review potential avenues for new indicators
which may help in better designing studies, collecting data, and analyzing the
results. This is partly due to the difficulties in measuring empirically for social or
individual characteristics or behaviours that might be associated with
neighbourhood effects. Another reason is the need to broaden the scope of what
might impact the non-housing outcomes, which can change from one place and
one group to another. The following elements could be used to further develop
research and knowledge on the links between housing and education, skills
development, and employment impacts.
Neighbourhood Effects
The difficulty in measuring “disparate but converging measures of neighbourhood
mechanisms” (Sampson, Morenhoff and Gannon-Rowley, p. 457) that have
independent validity, although related, is clear. Such factors would include social
ties and interactions (i.e.the concept of social capital); norms and collective
efficacy (i.e. the “linkage of mutual trust and the shared willingness to intervene
for the public good”, p. 457); institutional resources (i.e. the “quality, quantity, and
diversity of institutions in the community that address the needs of youth” p. 457);
and routine activities (i.e. how children’s well-being is affected by land use
patterns). As May’s (2007) research highlighted in the case of the interviewed
Toronto Community Housing residents, many of these elements have not
50
necessarily been measured in the current research. This observation is also
echoed in Josephson’s work (2004).
Potential ways identified to measure such neighbourhood effects include the use
of crime rates; the way that social ties are activated in a community (collective
efficacy); and the measurement of social mechanisms and health including
mental health outcomes and high-risk adolescent behaviours such as early
sexual initiation, teen childbearing and conduct disorder (Sampson, Morenhoff
and Gannon-Rowley). It has been mentioned that concentrated poverty and
structural characteristics are still critical predictors of neighbourhood effects.
Socio-economic resources and residential stability are necessary components of
neighbourhoods that have high levels of collective efficacy.
Maclennan (2001) has also identified the difficulty associated with trying to
understand neighbourhood effects. Variables such as location, ethnicity, poverty,
and neighbourhood deterioration are difficult to disaggregate when looking at the
role that each plays. He points out that there are few statistical sources of
information to provide suitable measures to be able to determine results and
correlations.
Statistics Canada also uses in its various data sets and products what could
stand in for readily available indicators. For education, some potential indicators
would include people having finished high school or not, and those with university
degrees. Test scoring is another useful indicator. All of these already exist in
some Statistics Canada data sets, along with housing information.
Employment Related Elements
Regarding skills development, years of schooling, trade certificates, changes in
income, and changes in occupation groups to higher level ones can be obtained
in micro data sets and the SLID. Finally, employment impacts could be
evaluated by evaluating the number of weeks worked, increases in numbers of
hours worked and changes in income.
Social Indicators
Based on the discussion in The Social Report (Ministry of Social Development,
2004), social indicators have been suggested as another avenue for measuring
such outcomes. “Social indicators are signposts that help us to measure
progress towards a desired outcome. Indicators are selected because they
either directly measure the outcome of interest or because they are known to be
a good predictor of, or are associated with, that outcome” (Ministry of Social
Development, 2004). These indicators include measuring factors such as
participation in early childhood education, participation in tertiary education,
participation in sports and leisure, experience of cultural activities, telephone and
internet access in the home, and regular contact with family and friends.
51
In the report The Use of Social Indicators as Evaluation Instruments, Ekos
Research Associates (1998) identified a number of strengths and weaknesses of
these methods. One approach, the use of social modeling through multivariate
methods aimed at establishing causal relations, uses policy-relevant variables
introduced as one independent variable, among others that contribute to the
social outcome in question. The outcome is represented by variables that can be
called social indicators. In studies they reviewed which examined child
development, social indicators such as the level of social competence or schoolreadiness were used in conjunctions with socio-demographic and economic
indicators.
Ekos reported that advantages of this approach are that the models are generally
based on some kind of conceptual or causal model where the links between
inputs and the outputs – represented by social indicators – are clearly specified,
as are the external control variables affecting these outcomes. The simulation
model is based on a conceptual or theoretical model, ensuring that there is
coherence and efficiency in the data collection and research. Explanatory
variables include government expenditures making it possible to measure the
contribution of programs to final social outcomes. These simulation models have
the flexibility of posing and answering “what if” questions with rigour.
One problem the researchers identify with social modeling approaches is that
they are ordinarily confined to one area of social concern. Another challenge
highlighted by Ekos is that social indicator efforts are purely quantitative: as a
result, an individual’s valuation and judgement – how they feel about their social
conditions - is not included in the measure. By including this qualitative
information it would be possible to identify whether the observed changes are
good or bad. They also point out the problem with the lack of an overall
conceptual framework or theoretical model in the development of social
indicators.
Finally, an article by Armstrong, Francis, Bourne and Dussuyer (2002) stressed
that another problem with indicators is that they tend to show the results but not
the cost of the actions. Thus, the difficulty is complicated by the need to
disentangle the causes of the change in an indicator. They identified the need for
sophisticated modeling to disentangle the contributions of different programs, and
it may still be that the causes may be external to the initiatives or the model.
Social Capital
Recent research on neighbourhoods has begun to point in the direction of social
capital, the relationships that exist between individuals and their social networks,
as an important source of neighbourhood change and stability. “Although social
scientists are far from knowing if social capital is the answer to neighbourhood
stability, the identification and assessment of the institutional and political, as well
as socio-political, attributes of neighbourhoods may help to better explain the
52
dynamic process of neighbourhood change, condition, and character” (Nelson A.
Rockefeller Institute, 1997).
Pope (2003) explains that the use of social capital has become “one of the most
popular exports from sociological theory into everyday language and has evolved
into something of a ‘cure-all’ for the problems and challenges that confront
societies and their modern development” (p. 1). Because the concept focuses on
the positive aspects of human relationships, putting these positive consequences
in the broader framework of capital and focusing on non-monetary capital as a
source of power and influence, researchers find the concept persuasive. Pope
also indicates that discussions of social capital also encompass the following
elements: social connectedness, social cohesion, community competence, social
networks, social inclusion, social support, social isolation, and social exclusion (p.
1).
While social capital has an important role to play in explaining inequalities,
according to Pope, she points to the fact that there is little evidence to date that
social capital will provide a ready remedy for major social problems. In order to
benefit researchers and policy makers, they will need to first examine the
underlying theoretical basis of the definition of social capital they use and will
also need to determine the types of measurements needed.
Several criticisms related to social capital indicators were highlighted by Pope,
the first being that social capital indicators lack clear definition, and that collective
social capital is not the same as individual social capital. She argues that the
presence of social capital may not always result in positive social outcomes, and
solutions based on an individualized notion of social capital may not work or may
reinforce inequality.
Pope cites Labonte (1999) who warns that “solutions based on current social
capital approaches of empowering people are as likely to fail as the many
community development interventions that have gone before – if maximizing
social capital is seen as the means to increase economic growth, and as a
substitute for adequate infrastructure” (p. 9).
Life Course Approach
Finally, another option of interest is the life course approach, adapted from
epidemiology and used in population health studies, which focuses on the
trajectories of individuals through life (PRI, 2004). This approach examines
elements cumulatively over a person’s life, but could prove to be an interesting
method of examining neighbourhood effects of housing, accounting for the
number of factors and complex relationships that exist.18
18
See Hertzman, C. and C. Power (2001). A Life Course Approach to Health and Human
Development, in Jody Heyman, et al. (ed.), Healthier Societies: From Analysis to Action. Oxford
University Press, pp. 83-106.
53
4.2 Future Research Considerations
A range of suggestions have been made by various housing researchers to
generate more useful research on the societal benefits of housing. These relate
to issues of methodology, data, process, funding and partnering, as discussed
below.
Josephson (2004) emphasized that research needs to move beyond simple
counts and descriptions to more in-depth explanations and the exploration of the
relative importance of these factors. Given the current modest state of knowledge
on the impact of housing on education, skills development and employment,
several future research opportunities should be highlighted.
A suggestion made by Pomeroy (2004) was that the need measurement
developed by CMHC, designed to assess a core of specific housing issues, be
undertaken more frequently and results published earlier. He also identifies the
need to broaden the indicators of these data collection tools to include nonshelter outcomes. This would indeed help by making more data available to
researchers. On this note, it could be suggested that Statistics Canada include
more housing variables in its surveys.
Several authors have highlighted the need for more recent empirical studies on a
variety of issues. Any future research endeavours would be wise to enable or
facilitate the development of such studies, especially when one considers the age
of the data being used. It is recommended that further research be fostered to
fund more specific, longer-term research initiatives aimed at collecting data for
analysis on education, skills development and employment outcomes. These
types of initiatives would benefit greatly from a national approach, examining
similar issues across a range of cities and areas of the country.
In an article that sets out, in part, to examine the validity of some of the research
related to the sociological assumptions underlying housing mobility programs,
Varady and Walker (2003), suggest that there is a need for research on the longterm impacts of helping families move to low-poverty, low-minority
neighbourhoods, such as the MTO program. They identify the need to determine
whether children in these programs experience future improvements in their
employment circumstances due to better educational attainment.
Other opportunities would include partnering with academic research groups.
Such partnerships could be for longer-term research initiatives, as mentioned
above. Such relationships would be of mutual benefit, enabling both sides to
bridge funding issues, as well as helping in knowledge sharing: using existing
information, programs and data as well as fostering new ones.
54
One example that merits to be highlighted is that such relationships could help in
exploiting existing situations. A natural experiment of sorts is currently going on
in Ontario at present and was used by Oreopoulos in his work: virtually all
applicants for social housing are assigned to units on a first come, first served
basis. It should thus, in principle, be possible to survey social housing
occupants, as well as those of co-op housing and non-co-op housing at several
points of time after their occupancy to determine, for example, whether changes
in employment status relative to that at entry into the unit are better for co-op
housing than other kinds of social housing.
Finally, one of the most important gaps needing to be addressed is that of the
lack of information pertaining to the non-housing outcomes of education, skills
development and employment of the identified vulnerable groups. Of these
groups, Aboriginals, homeless populations as well as recent immigrants are the
groups in which the lack of knowledge is most evident. This, of course, does not
mean that research pertaining to the outcomes for women and single parent
households, as well as children and youth should not be a priority either.
Adequate research of housing outcomes for these groups is of great importance
given that they represent the groups at the margins of the housing system. The
importance of, and difference that education, skills development and employment
can make in lives of individuals, mean that understanding their links with housing
is of great importance for these groups.
One particular challenge, especially regarding the large, longer-breadth
methodologies that were reviewed, is the lack of funding. Another challenge is
the short-term nature of current funding which is problematic for researchers
wanting to undertake evaluations of programs designed to support the needs of
homeless people (Josephson, 2004). Josephson has identified the need for
sustained funding in order to undertake detailed and objective research to design
interventions and examine their effectiveness. Such calls are echoed by many
specialists in the housing field, and are certainly an important obstacle to
furthering housing research in Canada.
The findings relating to neighbourhoods and their effects are appealing given the
interest in creating mixed-income neighbourhoods. However, the differing
conclusions regarding these links suggest that more research is needed to better
understand the relationships that exist. Currently, the redevelopments of Regent
Park and other properties of Toronto Community Housing into mixed-income
communities could provide fascinating opportunities to better understand the
complexities of neighbourhood effects.
From a policy perspective, Smith and Torjman (2004) have stressed the “failure
of horizontality” when dealing with complex files, in which there is a lack of intragovernmental collaboration on initiatives. In a discussion of the National
Homelessness Initiative, it was reported that, while one of the essential elements
55
for approval of community plans was evaluating the outcomes of activities, little
or no collaboration or guidance was undertaken on the methodologies for such
evaluations. In addition, the money spent on these evaluations would be taken
from the funding for the community services or projects to directly help homeless
people. This also highlights the need for adequate funding dedicated to housing
research, without compromising the effectiveness of current or future programs.
Torjman points out that complex files require horizontal management. Measuring
results from projects undertaken by different levels of government means the
creation of new partnerships between and among organizations that had not
worked together in the past. She also identifies the need to be able to measure
both process and outcome when working within complex files. Different sources
of quantitative and qualitative data need to be identified. In addition, longer-term
outcome measures need to be established.
56
5. Concluding Discussion
There is evidence that housing can and does have tangible outcomes regarding
education, skills development and employment. However, it is also evident that
there are many grey areas regarding these linkages. In many cases the
outcomes were not found, were weak, or there was not enough evidence. In
other cases methodological weaknesses, limitations regarding data or sample
sizes affected the quality of the conclusion.
With regards to educational outcomes, the strongest conclusions included
neighbourhood outcomes, specifically the affluence of the neighbourhoods.
Stability of housing was also found to have a strong linkage to education
outcomes, and frequent moves or changing of schools was associated with
poorer outcomes. Available parent time, the physical condition of housing, and
housing stability were found to have an impact on education outcomes of
children. Other conclusions, such as the outcome of tenure on education, the
effects of homeownership, and living in public housing versus low-poverty areas,
were less strong.
The outcomes for employment and skills development that were the strongest
included the effects of employment programs to mitigate income and rent
structure disincentives. The effects of tenure were less conclusive having mixed
results, however educational achievement and employment status did have links
to tenure. Locational effects were also mixed, with some findings pointing to a
relationship in labour market and housing market inequalities. However, the
HOPE VI and MTO research found little evidence for this, and other findings
attributed these locational inequalities to socio-economic status. These mixed
findings highlight the difficulty of examining certain outcomes due to the
complexity of factors involved. Finally, some evidence was found that pointed to
stability of tenure of public housing tenants being a likely factor in employment
outcomes, but could not be established with certainty.
These findings are important in that they illustrate the need to more effectively
study these outcomes and address research limitations that have been
highlighted. A more complete, detailed and thorough picture of the full effects of
housing will ultimately strengthen policies and programs.
One of the challenges in examining the link between housing and education-skills
development-employment is its complexity, as well as the impact of other
intervening factors such as individual choice and community influence. These
complexities cannot always be reliably quantified empirically and further research
should consider multi-faceted approaches to aid in the understanding of these
links.
57
Appendices
58
Appendix I - Proposals for Future Research Projects
This Research Report has identified a number of gaps in research on the
linkages between housing and education, skills development and employment. It
has also identified the research approaches considered most suitable for
providing fully supported findings and conclusions about these linkages.
Based on these observations, the following outlines several research projects to
increase understanding on the impacts of non-housing outcomes in Canada.
1- Non-Housing Outcomes in Ontario Affordable Housing
Building on the work that was done by Oreopoulos, it was highlighted that a seminatural selection situation currently exists in Ontario: applicants for social housing
are assigned units on a first-come, first-served basis. Such a situation could, in
principle, be used to survey social housing occupants over a period of time after
their occupancy, to determine if changes in employment, for example, were
better for certain types of social housing units than others.
If properly designed, this situation could be used to measure several elements of
housing and the education, skills development and employment series of links.
An addition to this research might be that of including a test for house condition
effects. Another interesting extension or variation to this project would be to see
whether similar situations in other provinces could be used to the same effect,
broadening the scope to a more national or provincial level.
To ensure a strong collection of information, it would be important that such a
study be given a proper length of time within which to follow the individuals
(perhaps a two to three year minimum). This would allow for adequate tracking
of certain variables, especially those related to education and children for
example.
2- Continuation and Follow-up of Longitudinal Sample Studies
There are two major data sets which are of use, the National Longitudinal Survey
of Children and Youth (NLSCY) and the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to
Canada (LSIC). In the case of the NLSCY, research has found that ownership
and housing condition did affect children’s education (Kohen, Hertzman &
Brooks-Gunn, 1998; Curtis & Phipps, 2000). Such findings are relatively strong,
though there are self-selection biases which must be controlled for, but
nevertheless the issues that were found should be further explored.
59
Regarding the LSIC, several authors have highlighted its strengths, and with the
third wave of data having been released more work will be done comparing the
findings from the use of earlier data (e.g. Mendez, Hiebert & Wyly, 2006,
Renaud, et al, 2006). As recent immigrants and refugees were a group for which
information and research was lacking, such research work would be very
beneficial.
3- RRAP Outcomes Study
The Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) could also be used
for a shorter term study, in which households would be followed for various
factors. This could include health and educational outcomes in children for
renovated and deteriorated housing. One method would be to randomly approve
acceptable applications for markets which are seriously oversubscribed, followed
for a year for example. Another option could be to identify households that have
been on waiting lists for several years and others that did not wait, comparing
outcomes of variables.
The use of the RRAP for such data collection could prove a good bridging
measure until other programs or samples were amassed.
4- Education, Skills Development and Employment Outcomes in Aboriginal
Populations
Recent Statistics Canada data has shown that Canada’s urban Aboriginal
population is growing, representing many challenges for all groups and
governments involved. Given the great lack of knowledge and information
regarding the non-housing outcomes for Canada’s Aboriginal populations, an
important contribution would be a major study examining the educational, skills
development and employment outcomes of housing for urban Aboriginal
populations.
Using the existing First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (FNRLHS)
and Aboriginal Peoples Survey could prove to be important assets in better
addressing the current lack of knowledge regarding the housing outcomes for
Canada’s Aboriginal population.
60
Synthesizes
findings from
empirical
research.
Discussion
paper.
Includes
Environmental
scan.
Beauvais, Caroline
and Jenson, Jane
(2003). The Wellbeing of Children:
Are There
“Neighborhood
Effects”?
METHODOLOGY
Ellen, Ingrid and
Turner, Margery
(1997). Does
Neighbourhood
Matter? Assessing
the Recent
Evidence
STUDY
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
•
61
Findings from the
literature indicate that:
neighbourhood effects
are shaped by children’s
different experiences by
gender, class and
ethnicity; social
composition across
neighbourhoods
generates as much
heterogeneity as is
found among individuals;
Determining causality is
the most difficult
challenge for
researchers in this field.
There is contradictory
evidence as to which
neighbourhood
characteristics matter most
with respect to educational
attainment and which
adolescents may be most
affected by neighbourhood
effects, although there is
general support for the
notion that neighbourhood
does play a role in
educational attainment.
Strengths: Includes an
environmental scan of
interventions designed to
improve child outcomes at the
neighbourhood level.
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
•
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
Difficult to identify and
measure the
neighbourhood
conditions that play the
most important role in
shaping outcomes;
neighbourhood effects
may be non-linear,
therefore not easily
discernible; difficult to
separate individual or
family characteristics
from neighbourhood
qualities.
Description: Updates the
state of knowledge related to
the impact of neighbourhood
on child development.
Strengths: Looks across
outcomes to assess the overall
importance of neighbourhood
environment on the social and
economic well-being of
individuals at different lifestages.
Description: Examines how
neighbourhoods affect families
and children. Identifies
methodological challenges,
summarizes past research.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
Appendix II – Review of Identified Methodologically Sound Studies
Curtis, L. and S.
Phipps (2000)
Economic
Resources and
Children’s Health
and Success at
School: An
Analysis Using the
NLSCY. HRDC.
STUDY
Longitudinal
study, using
regression
analysis
METHODOLOGY
Strengths: Regression
analysis using longitudinal
data, only children present in
both years of the survey are
Description: Uses data from
the second cycle of the
National Longitudinal Survey of
Children and Youth (NLSCY)
to examine the relationship
between economic resources
and a child’s development.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
Difficult to determine
direction of causality.
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
Regress outcome
measures using the first
wave of the NLSCY to
provide a benchmark;
controlled for a number
of variables using
regressions; used twoperiod income date to
find average poverty
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
Children who live in
owner-occupied housing
have better outcomes
than those who do not.
More hours of parental
time available each
week significantly
improves a child’s
success at school
•
•
62
Neighbourhood and
community
circumstances are only
one of three factors that
affect child outcomes –
the other two are income
and parenting. Families
and children living in
supportive communities
do better than those in
communities lacking
cohesion, good services
and facing threats to
well-being.
•
for some children, poor
child developmental
outcomes occur
regardless of SES,
neighbourhood or other
circumstances.
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
Longitudinal
study
Longitudinal
study.
Analysis of
Census data
Buck, Nick (2001).
Identifying
Neighborhood
Effects on Social
Exclusion
Engeland, John, and
Roger Lewis (2004).
Exclusion from
METHODOLOGY
Bloom, H.S., Riccio,
J.A., Verma, N.
(2005). Promoting
work in public
housing: The
effectiveness of
Jobs-Plus. MDRC.
STUDY
Description: Overview of
issues pertaining to core
housing need and its
Strengths: Individual records
are linked to census data.
Description: Uses data from
the British Household Panel
Study linked to local area
characteristics to examine
how/whether non-housing
outcomes are associated with
neighbourhood characteristics.
Strengths: Two resident
surveys were conducted over
time. Used random assignment
research designs.
included.
Description: Uses data from
administrative records of
government agencies.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
Not always possible to
discriminate between
different causal effects
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
Uses descriptive
research to identify
associations between
indicators related to
social exclusion.
Measures the direct
association between an
area characteristic and
an outcome measure,
controlling for individual
characteristics that may
also influence that
outcome.
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
Significant associations
are found between
neighbourhood
characteristics and nonhousing outcomes.
Area is an important
influence, but there are
equally and more
important influences at
the individual and
household levels.
Evidence that in
deprived areas people’s
expectations of starting a
job and actually starting
a job are lower than in
non-deprived areas.
The paper draws a
linkage between core
housing need and labour
•
•
•
•
63
The Jobs-Plus program
increased the
employment and
earnings of residents in
public housing
developments relative to
the comparison group.
This impact was
sustained over time.
•
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
Erebus International.
2005. Review of the
Recent Literature
on Socio-economic
Status and
Learning
Acceptable
Housing:
Canadians in Core
Housing Need
STUDY
Literature review.
METHODOLOGY
Socio-economic status
intersects with other
factors including gender,
culture and ethnicity.
Some indications
support the view that it is
the concentration of
disadvantage versus
disadvantage itself that
is significant in
educational underperformance.
Parent level of education
and employment status
are key determinants of
advantage/disadvantage
•
•
•
Strengths: Examines the
results of the Longitudinal
Surveys of Australian youth
(LSAY) as well as international
studies.
64
Results indicate that
there continues to be an
inter-relationship
between education and
socio-economic status.
Strengths: Draws on data
derived from the 2001 Census
to explore the nature of the
difficulties faced by Canadians
in core housing needs.
•
force ties.
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
Description: Literature review
to determine if the relationship
between socio-economic
disadvantage and learning
outcomes holds in 2005.
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
Households with weak
ties to the labour force
have lower incomes, are
more likely to rent and
are much more likely to
be in core housing need
than other households.
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
•
relationship to a number of
social issues.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
METHODOLOGY
Literature review.
Literature review.
STUDY
Jencks, C. & Mayer,
S. E. (1990). The
Social
Consequences of
Growing Up in a
Poor
Neighbourhood In .
Inner City Poverty
in the United
States
Edwards, B. (2005).
Does it Take a
Village? An
Description: Studies the
effects neighbourhoods have
on young children.
Strengths: Focus on
quantitative studies that try to
separate neighbourhood or
school effects from family
effects through statistical
analysis of survey data.
Description: Compares
children from similar families
who grow up in different kinds
of neighbourhoods. Looked at
educational attainment and
economic success as well as
other outcomes.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
Selection bias based
on socio-demographic
factors such as family
Sample bias, random
sampling errors,
measurement error,
and specification error
were evident in a
number of studies
making it difficult to
draw general
conclusions.
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
Uses child and sociodemographic data as
controls to limit the
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
Neighbourhoods that are
predominantly black or
that have a high degree
of welfare dependency
reduce young men’s
chances of having a
high-paying job in
adulthood.
The greater the control
for family background,
the smaller the impact of
neighbourhood or school
effects.
Findings from the
literature review suggest
that neighbourhoods
•
•
•
65
The authors conclude
that studies of schools
and studies of
neighbourhoods yield
contradictory
conclusions about the
determinants of
educational
achievement.
•
and are more reliable
predictors of educational
outcomes than family or
household income.
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
Jacob, B. A. (2003).
Public Housing,
Housing Vouchers
and Student
Achievement:
Evidence from
Public Housing
demolitions in
Chicago
investigation of
Neighbourhood
Effects on
Australian
Children’s
Development
STUDY
Experimental
study.
METHODOLOGY
Strengths: Students are
matched to housing
developments through home
addresses in school records
and building closure is
determined from occupancy
data. Students living in CHA
units slated for closure are
matched with peers living in
units in the same project that
were not closed.
Description: Uses
administrative data from the
Chicago Housing Authority
(CHA) and the Chicago Public
Schools.
Strengths: Describes the
Longitudinal Study of
Australian Children (LSAC)
designed to examine
neighbourhood effects on
children. The study uses a
wide range of variables.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
likelihood that
neighbourhood
influences were the
result of selection bias.
Uses demolition as an
instrument to estimate
the causal impact of
living in public housing
on educational
outcomes.
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
income that may be
associated with
parents’ decisions to
live in a particular
neighbourhood.
Can’t directly replicate
the “treatment-on-thetreated” effect.
It was also found that
boys are more affected
by neighbourhood
disadvantage than girls.
Low-income families
tend to relocate close to
their original
neighbourhood.
Students who moved
were still living in high
poverty neighbourhoods
and attending schools
identical to the control
group. There was little to
no impact on the
academic achievement
of these children.
Study concludes that
providing households the
option of using housing
•
•
•
66
The LSAC study found
that children living in the
two most advantaged
neighbourhoods had
significantly higher
Learning domain scores
than the other three
neighbourhoods.
•
matter to children’s
development.
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
Multivariate
Kohen, E.
Description: Study uses the
Strengths: Experimental study
design includes a control
group, a “Section 8” (traditional
voucher) group and an
experimental voucher group.
Empirical approach was to
separately compare each
treatment group to the control
group on a wide range of
measures. Survey data were
collected, a sample of youth
and an adult from the youth’s
household were interviewed
Description: Compares
groups of youth involved in the
Moving to Opportunity
program.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
To overcome these
problems, Bonferroni20
and Bonferroni-Holm21
adjustments are used
There is the potential of
a familywise error rate
(FWER)19 where the
significance of
treatment effects is
viewed as a member of
a family of hypotheses
and per-comparison
errors (coefficients
viewed in isolation).
Used multivariate
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
Females in the
experimental group
experienced
improvements in
education.
The mental health of
females in both voucher
groups improved.
Males in both treatment
groups were more likely
than controls to engage
in risky behaviours and
to experience physical
health problems.
“Results indicate that
•
•
•
•
vouchers to relocate to
different neighbourhoods
will not necessarily
produce better (or
worse) educational
outcomes for poor
children.
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
67
The familywise error rate is “the chance of any false positives is the standard measure of Type I errors in multiple testing” (Nichols & Hayasaka,
2003)
20
“The Bonferroni correction is a mathematical correction originally utilized to reduce falsely significant results in statistical analyses.” (source:
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh , 2007)
21
Variation of the above correction.
19
Experimental
study.
METHODOLOGY
Kling, J. R. &
Liebman, J.B.
(2004).
Experimental
Analysis of
Neighborhood
Effects on Youth
STUDY
Hertzman, C. &
Brooks-Gunn, J.
(1998).
Neighbourhood
Influences
STUDY
analyses of
longitudinal
survey data.
METHODOLOGY
Strengths: focuses on specific
areas of competency
associated with children's
school readiness in two age
groups of children
National Longitudinal Survey of
Children and Youth (NLSCY)
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
analyses to determine
the effects of all
variables on the
responses of interest.
Neighbourhood
characteristics have an
impact on children's
readiness to learn. As
would be expected for
both toddlers and
preschoolers, family
characteristics are also
important; they mediate
neighbourhood effects
for the youngest
children. However, these
effects remain significant
over and above family
characteristics for the
older group of children
•
68
Family characteristics
such as higher levels of
household income and
higher levels of maternal
education are also
associated with
children's competencies.
•
neighbourhood
characteristics,
particularly
neighbourhood affluence
and cohesion are
associated with
competencies for
children of both age
groups.
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
METHODOLOGY
Empirical study.
Empirical study Longitudinal
study of
administrative
data
STUDY
Mullins, P. &
Western, J. (2001).
An Examination of
the Relationships
Between Housing
Systems and Nonhousing Outcomes
Oreopoulos, Phillip
(2003). The LongRun
Consequences of
Living in a Poor
Neighbourhood
Concerns for some,
small, self-selection
bias of families in the
housing allocation
system.
Potential for missing
information on some
tenants in using the IID.
Strengths: Uses public
housing data, matched to
postal addresses, and tax
Non-longitudinal study,
therefore outcomes
before and after
housing assistance was
given can’t be
measured.
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
Description: Longitudinal
study of Toronto public
housing tenants examining
neighbourhood effects on
labour market outcomes.
Strengths: Uses a cross
sectional (comparative)
analysis of different tenure
groups according to nonhousing outcomes.
Description: Uses data
collected in 1997 as part of the
South East Queensland
Quality of Life Survey.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
IID data crossreferenced with data
from the Longitudinal
Administrative Database
(LAD).
Self-selection concerns
controlled for using
various resident groups.
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
Private rental housing
provides better
outcomes than public
housing; but in groups
low-income groups, the
receipt of government
subsidy assistance or
not, only marginally
affected non-housing
outcomes.
Tenure type is linked to
relative poverty and
advantage or
disadvantage.
Little to no correlation
between wide-ranging
neighbourhood quality
and young resident’s
chances for long-run
labour market success;
Above findings despite
substantial differences
•
•
•
•
69
Home ownership confers
the most benefits in
terms of educational
achievement,
employment and
income.
•
(i.e., preschoolers).”
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
Decomposition
analysis using
longitudinal
survey data.
Analysis of
survey results.
Peck. B. (2001). The
Poor Stay Poor
and the Rich Stay
METHODOLOGY
Pebley, A. R., &
Sastry, N. (2003).
Concentrated
Poverty vs.
Concentrated
Affluence: Effects
on Neighborhood
Social
Environments and
Children’s
Outcomes
STUDY
Description: An Australian
study that focuses on the
associations between SES and
Strengths: Sampled children
were administered
standardized tests and
sampled children’s Primary
Caregiver was interviewed. In
addition, sampled children over
9 were interviewed as was one
sibling
Description: Uses data from
the first wave of the
longitudinal Los Angeles
Family and Neighbourhood
Survey (L.A.FANS).
administrative data
(Intergenerational Income
Database- IID). Naturally
occurring randomized selection
situation, enabling examination
of data over a period of about
30 years.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
Variables of family
earning, maternal
education,
neighbourhood income
and maternal reading
scores are interrelated
and are also associated
with other child, family,
and neighbourhood
characteristics.
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
Uses a decomposition
analysis where socioeconomic inequalities in
test scores are
decomposed into two
components related to
test scores and socioeconomic variables.
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
The study concluded
that on average,
compared with students
•
70
Further research
recommended on sibling
differences.
Neighbourhood level
median income is an
important predictor of
children’s achievement,
even when observable
and unobservable family
characteristics are held
constant.
•
•
Family differences
matter a great deal, as
measured using sibling
outcome correlations.
•
in average household
income, parental
education attainment,
family composition,
parental welfare
participation, and crime
exposure.
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
Mixed methods
study.
Use of
econometric
Steele, Marion and
Sarker, Rakhal
METHODOLOGY
Sanbonmatsu, L.,
Kling, J.R., Duncan,
G.J., & BrooksGunn, J. (2004).
Neighborhoods
and academic
achievement:
Results from the
moving to
opportunity
experiment
Rich
STUDY
Description: Use of Statistics
Canada microdata sets,
Strengths: Looked at children
ages 6 – 20. One adult and up
to 2 children from each family
were selected for the data
collection.
Description: Uses the
randomized housing mobility
experiment, Moving to
Opportunity to estimate the
causal effects on children’s
educational outcomes of
moving out of high-poverty
neighbourhoods.
Strengths: Data were
collected through survey
results.
a range of educational
indicators.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
Presence of estimation
problems. Since only
Possibility of
interviewer effects on
the administration and
scoring of test items.
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
Interviewer effects
controlled for by
computing adjusted test
scores. Authors
estimated the
interviewer coefficient
conditional on census
tracts, fixed effects and
individual
characteristics, and
calculated the estimated
interviewer effect as the
deviation of the
interviewer from the site
mean.
Other investigators
using econometric
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
The experimental
treatment led to a
substantial shift in the
poverty rank of the
neighbourhoods children
lived in, but a smaller
change in the distribution
of school ranks.
Personal and family wellbeing, including
•
•
71
Achievement-related
benefits for school-aged
children from moving to
improved neighbourhood
environments are small.
•
from high SES families,
those from low SES
families leave school
earlier, have lower
aspirations, tend to have
different patterns of
subject selection in postcompulsory schooling,
achieve at a lower level
at school, obtain lower
Tertiary Entrance
Scores, are less likely to
go to university, and are
more likely to enter
occupations associated
with low SES
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
METHODOLOGY
techniques using
Statistics Canada
microdata sets.
Mixed methods
study.
STUDY
(2005). Estimates
of the Private and
Societal Costs and
Benefits of
Homeownership in
Selected Canadian
Cities
U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban
Development
(2003). Moving to
opportunity,
interim impact
evaluation.
Strengths: Study uses both
quantitative and qualitative
data to assess MTO’s effects
in areas including child
educational achievement and
adult and youth employment.
MTO randomly assigned
subjects to a variety of housing
options.
Description: Study designed
to examine the impact of MTO
halfway through the 10-year
research period.
including those from the
General Social Surveys.
STUDY DESCRIPTION &
STRENGTHS OF APPROACH
Control group has not
been static. Many
control group families
moved out of public
housing. In addition,
the welfare system
changes had effects on
low-income families. In
addition, there were
increased opportunities
for all MTO families
because of a booming
economy. This would
have an impact on the
results.
WEAKNESSES/
LIMITATIONS OF
APPROACH
income and usually one
other variable are
controlled, it may be
that what is identified
as the ownership
impact arises because
of other variables which
are not controlled for.
Three problems are
identified: co-linearity;
self-selection; and
endogeneity
HOW WEAKNESSES
HAVE BEEN
ADDRESSED
techniques to overcome
these problems have
found that estimation
without using these
techniques doesn’t
change results much.
Use pattern of results
across different agegroups to gauge
whether the problems
are likely to matter. Use
findings from
international literature to
corroborate findings.
MTO had small but
significant effects on the
characteristics of the
schools sample children
attended. Therefore
nearly 3/4s of the
experimental children
still attended schools in
the same school district
they were in at baseline.
Results show that the
demonstration had
virtually no significant
effects on any of the
measures of educational
performance analyzed.
•
•
72
Owner children do better
than renter children on
standardized tests and
behaviour outcomes.
•
improved child outcomes
is a benefit of
homeownership.
PROVEN LINKAGES &
CONCLUSIONS
List of Acronyms
CHPC: Citizens Housing and Planning Council
CMHC: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
HUD: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
LAD: Longitudinal Administrative Database
LSIC: Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada
MTO: Moving to Opportunity
NLSCY: National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth
PUMF: Public use microdata files
RDC: Research Data Centre (Statistics Canada)
SCPI: Supporting Community Partnerships Initiative
SES: Socio-economic status
SLID: Survey of Labour Income and Dynamics
SUTVA: Stable unit treatment value assumption
73
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