Effects of neighborhood characteristics on the mortality of black male youth: Evidence from Gautreaux, Chicago

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Votruba, Mark Edward, and Jeffrey R. Kling. "Effects of neighborhood characteristics on the mortality of black male youth: Evidence from Gautreaux, Chicago." Social science & medicine 68, no. 5 (2009): 814-823. | Link


The authors use variation from the Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program to estimate the effect of neighborhood characteristics on mortality for children moved from one neighborhood to another as a part of that program. They find moving to more advantaged neighborhoods decreases the mortality risk faced by black you, particularly the risk of homicide.


The Gautreaux program operated from 1976 to 1998. From 1976 to 1980 the consent decree required HUD to move families to neighborhoods with less than 30% black population share. That was relaxed in 1981. The Gautreaux program was administered by the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities. Families started choosing their own units in 1990 but were assigned randomly before that.

Much of the literature on the Gautreaux housing program is plagued by attrition bias. The authors of this paper avoid that by using outcomes from administrative data on mortality outcomes for participants in the program.

Data & Key Variables

  • Gautreaux participant data from HUD from 1976-1994
    • Date of intake and placement
    • Intake address
    • Placement address
    • Identifying information
  • 1990 Census
    • Tract characteristics
  • National Death Index (NCHS) and State Vital Statistics
    • Date and cause of death


Cox proportional hazard model of death at age i, controlling for the baseline mortality hazard at that age. Separate Cox regressions run for each neighborhood characteristics of interest.


Moving to a more advantaged neighborhood, measured by the percentage of tract residents with a college degree, decreases the rate of post-placement mortality by 35 percent, adjusting for family and intake tract covariates. Other measures of neighborhood characteristics are consistent with the conclusion that moving to better neighborhoods reduces mortality, though the effects are sometimes smaller and statistically insignificant under these other measures.

Key Table/Figure

Voturba and Kling Table 6