The effects of owner-occupied housing on student outcomes: Evidence from NYC

Sarah A. Cordes, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Brian Elbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The view of owning a home as integral to the “American dream” is enshrined in numerous policies designed to promote homeownership. Whether or not these policies are worth their cost is unclear and depends, in part, on the extent to which owner-occupied housing (OOH) confers socially important benefits. Yet identifying the effects of OOH is complicated, not only due to standard concerns about selection, but also because OOH tends to be located in neighborhoods with better amenities (including schools) and is often synonymous with living in a single-family home. In this paper we use rich, longitudinal student-level data to examine whether students in OOH have better academic and health outcomes than those in renter occupied housing (ROH). We address concerns about selection using student fixed effects and a rich set of individual, building, and neighborhood controls. We find that there is notable variation in both the characteristics and size of OOH and the types of students who live in OOH in NYC. While raw differences show that students who live in OOH have better outcomes—they are less likely to be chronically absent, obese, or overweight and have higher standardized test scores—much of this disparity is explained by differences in the students who select into OOH. In models where we account for selection into OOH and building type with rich controls and student fixed effects, we find small positive effects of moving into OOH on attendance and math scores with no consistent evidence of any impacts of OOH on BMI or obesity, suggesting that policies that promote homeownership might be oversold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103857
JournalRegional Science and Urban Economics
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Academic outcomes
  • Child health and obesity
  • Homeownership
  • Housing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Urban Studies


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