Young people who grow up in high-poverty urban neighborhoods experience crime and violence, resource-poor schools, restricted labor markets, and other forms of deprivation at a much higher level than those who are raised in middle-income or affluent neighborhoods. In addition to individual and family characteristics, these neighborhood contexts can place teens at risk. Numerous studies have documented a correlation between socioeconomic neighborhood-level variables and adolescent sexual behaviors (Hogan and Kitagawa 1985; Crane 1991; Billy and Moore 1992; Coulton and Pandey 1992; Brewster, Billy, and Grady 1993; Brooks-Gunn et al. 1993; Ku, Sonenstein, and Pleck 1993; Billy, Brewster, and Grady 1994), the home environment (Klebanov, Brooks-Gunn, and Duncan 1994), child maltreatment (Coulton et al. 1995), crime (Sampson and Groves 1989), dropping out of school (Crane 1991; Coulton and Pandey 1992; Brooks-Gunn et al. 1993), and delinquent and risk behavior (Johnstone 1978; Kowaleski-Jones 2000; Wikstrom and Loeber 2000). Children who grow up in public housing developments may be at particular risk for these adverse outcomes, since families who live in public housing are typically in neighborhoods with higher poverty than families who are similarly poor but have no housing subsidy (Newman and Schnare 1997). Beginning in 1994, a large federally operated housing mobility demonstration, Moving to Opportunity (MTO), used a special Section 8 voucher to help relocate a randomly selected group of program applicants living in highly distressed public housing projects in five U.S. cities into communities in which fewer than 10% of their neighbors were poor.2 Over 4,000 families signed up for the program, and roughly one-third received a voucher to relocate to a low-poverty neighborhood. Several years after random assignment, survey data showed that teen girls appeared to benefit more from the treatment than teen boys (Kling, Liebman, and Katz 2007). We use in-depth interviews with a subset of MTO teens in Baltimore and Chicago to explore how boys may have been less able to take advantage of this type of housing mobility policy than girls. We find six underlying factors that may contribute to the differences in outcomes for boys and girls: daily routines, fitting in with neighborhood norms, neighborhood navigation strategies, interactions with neighborhood peers, delinquency among friends, and involvement with father figures.


Clampet-Lundquist, Susan, Kathryn Edin, Jeffrey R. Kling, and Greg J. Duncan. "Moving Teenagers Out of High-Risk Neighborhoods: How Girls Fare Better than Boys." American Journal of Sociology 116.4 (January 2011): 1154-1189.