Advertisement

Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 387–409 | Cite as

Social programs and household size: evidence from New York city

  • Ingrid Gould Ellen
  • Brendan O’Flaherty
Article

Abstract

What determines how many adults live in a house? How do people divide themselves up among households? Average household sizes vary substantially, both over time and in the cross-section. In this paper, we describe how a variety of government policies affect living arrangements, intentionally or not. Using data from a survey of households in New York City, we find that these incentives appear to have an impact. Specifically, households receiving these housing and income subsidies are smaller on average (measured by number of adults). The impacts appear to be considerably larger than those that would occur if the programs were lump-sum transfers. Small average household size can be extremely expensive in terms of physical and environmental resources, higher rents, and possibly homelessness. Thus, we encourage policymakers to pay greater heed to the provisions built into various social policies that favor smaller households.

Keywords

Household size Housing subsidies Income subsidies New York Social programs 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Irv Garfinkel and Marcia Meyers for their able editorial guidance and Kiatipong Ariyapruchya for excellent research assistance. In addition, we thank participants in the Columbia University Public Policy Consortium and Applied Micro Lunch, the Union College Economics Department, the University of British Columbia, the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, the NYC Welfare State project, and the Homer Hoyt Advanced Studies Institute. We also thank Ed Olsen, Sherry Glied, Amy Schwartz, Sewin Chan, Rosanne Haggerty, Denise DiPasquale, and Carol Caton for helpful individual suggestions. Finally, we thank the Russell Sage Foundation for financial support.

References

  1. Acs, G., & Nelson, S. (2001). Honey, I’m home: Changes in living arrangements in the late 1990s. Series B, No. B-38. New federalism: National survey of America’s families. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  2. Acs, G., & Nelson, S. (2002). Assessing the relationship between welfare policies and changes in living arrangements of low-income families and children in the late 1990s. Discussion paper 02–05, Assessing the new federalism. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  3. Acs, G., & Nelson, S. (2004). Changes in living arrangements in the late 1990s: Do welfare policies matter? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 23(2), 273–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alm, J., & Whittington, L. A. (1995). Income taxes and the marriage decision. Applied Economics, 27, 25–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alm, J., & Whittington, L. A. (1997). Income taxes and the timing of marital decisions. Journal of Public Economics, 64, 219–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alm, J., & Whittington, L. A. (1999). For love or money? The impact of income taxes on marriage. Economica, 66, 297–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Becker, S. O., Bentolila, S., Fernandex, A., & Ichino, A. (2004). Job insecurity and children’s emancipation. IZA discussion paper 1046.Google Scholar
  8. Beresford, J. C., & Rivlin, A. (1966). Privacy, poverty, and old age. Demography, 1, 247–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bitler, M., Gelbach, J., & Hoynes, H. (2002). The impact of welfare reform on living arrangements. NBER working paper no. 8784, February. Cambridge MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  10. Borsch-Supan, A. (1986). Household formation, housing prices, and public policy impact. Journal of Public Economics, 30, 145–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Community Service Society of New York (2002). Jiggetts Relief. Retrieved from http://www.cssny.org/home/socserv/jiggetts.html. Accessed on July 3, 2002.Google Scholar
  12. Costa, D. (1997). Displacing the family: Union Army pensions and elderly living arrangements. Journal of Political Economy, 105(4), 1269–1292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Curtis, M. (2004). The impact of benefit levels and local economic conditions on the living arrangements of mothers. Unpublished mimeo. Columbia University.Google Scholar
  14. Edmonds, E., Mammen, K., & Miller, D. (2003). Rearranging the Family? Income Support and Elderly Living Arrangements in a Low Income Country, Barnard College working paper.Google Scholar
  15. Ellen, I. G., & O’Flaherty, B. (forthcoming). How New York housing policies are different—and maybe why. In I. Garfinkel & M. Meyers (Eds.), The welfare state in New York City. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  16. Ellwood, D. T. (2000). The impact of the earned income tax credit and social policy reforms on work, marriage, and living arrangements. National Tax Journal, 53, 1063–1106.Google Scholar
  17. Englehardt, G., Gruber, J., & Perry, C. (2002). Social Security and elderly living arrangements. Working paper 8911. National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  18. Freeman, L. (2003). Final report on Task Order #3. Report to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.Google Scholar
  19. Garfinkel, I., & Meyers, M. K. (1997). New York City social indicators 1997 – A tale of many cities. New York City Social Indicators Data Center, Columbia University School of Social Work.Google Scholar
  20. Hendershott, P., & Smith, M. (1989). Transfer programs and aggregate household formation. Population Research and Policy Review, 8, 227–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hobbs, F., & Stoops, N. (2002). Demographic trends in the 20th century. U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Special Reports, Series CENSR-4. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  22. Lazear, E. P., & Michael, R. T. (1980). Family size and the distribution of per capita income. American Economic Review, 70(March), 91–107.Google Scholar
  23. Lemieux, T., & Milligan, K. (2004). Incentive effects of social assistance: A regression discontinuity approach. Working paper 10541, National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  24. Malpezzi, S., & Vandell, K. (2002). Does the low-income housing tax credit increase the supply of housing? Journal of Housing Economics, 11(4), 360–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mancuso, D. C., Lieberman, C. J., Lindler, V. S., & Moses, A. (2003). TANF leavers: Examining the relationship between receipt of housing assistance and post-TANF well-being. Cityscape, 6(2), 123–138.Google Scholar
  26. Miron, J. R. (1989). Household formation, affordability, and housing policy. Population Research and Policy Review, 8, 55–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moffit, R. (1998). The effect of welfare on marriage and fertility. In R. Moffit (Ed.), Welfare, the family, and reproductive behavior (pp. 50–97). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  28. Murray, C. (1984). Losing ground: American social policy, 1950–1980. New York: Basic Books, Inc.Google Scholar
  29. Murray, M. P. (1999). Subsidized and unsubsidized housing stocks, 1935–1987: Crowding out and cointegration. Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 18(1), 107–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nagle, G. (2003). Comparing housing-assisted and unassisted welfare leavers in Massachusetts. Cityscape, 6(2), 139–158.Google Scholar
  31. New York City Department of Human Resources (2002). HRA facts. Retrieved from http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/hra/html/hrafacts.html. Accessed June 26, 2002.Google Scholar
  32. O’Flaherty, B. (2003). Do housing and social programs make households too small? Evidence from New York City. Discussion paper 0203-07. Columbia University Economics Department.Google Scholar
  33. Sinai, T., & Waldfogel, J. (2005). Do low-income housing subsidies increase the occupied housing stock? Journal of Public Economics, 89(11–12), 2137–2164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Smith, L. B., Rosen, K. T., Markandya, A., & Ullmo, P.-A. (1984). The demand for housing, household headship rates, and household formation: An international analysis. Urban Studies, 21, 407–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Susin, S. (2002). Rent vouchers and the price of low-income housing. Journal of Public Economics, 83(1), 109–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Susin, S. (2003). Longitudinal outcomes of subsidized housing recipients in matched survey and administrative data. Paper presented at the fall meeting of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, November 2003, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  37. Swartz, R. J. (2003). The housing situation for low-income families in Milwaukee. Cityscape, 6(2), 159–171.Google Scholar
  38. U.S. Bureau of the Census (2001). Statistical abstract of the United States. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  39. U.S. House of Representatives (1998). Committee on Ways and Means, Background material and data on programs within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  40. Urban Institute (2002). Welfare rule database. Retrieved from http://anfdata.urban.org/WRD/WRDWelcome.cfm. Accessed on June 26, 2002.Google Scholar
  41. Verma, N., & Hendra, R. (2003). Comparing outcomes for Los Angeles County’s HUD-assisted and unassisted welfare leavers. Cityscape, 6(2), 89–122.Google Scholar
  42. Winkler, A. (1992). The impact of housing costs on the living arrangements of single mothers. Journal of Urban Economics, 32, 388–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zedlewski, S. R. (2002). The importance of housing benefits to welfare success. Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy and Urban Institute, April.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wagner Graduate School of Public ServiceNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations