The Notable and the Null: Using Mixed Methods to Understand the Diverse Impacts of Residential Mobility Programs



This chapter provides a unique contribution to the neighbourhood effects literature by demonstrating that data from in-depth interviews is capable of revealing some of the mechanisms behind unexpected quantitative findings. Such a mixed methods approach is regarded a major step forward in neighbourhood effects research. The chapter describes and attempts to explain unexpected findings from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program (mental health improvements which were not originally anticipated); a weak ‘treatment’ effect for many families (initial and subsequent moves to segregated, economically declining areas instead of higher opportunity neighbourhoods); “null” findings where large effects on individual outcomes were expected instead (MTO was primarily designed to enhance the employment prospects of adults and to improve the educational outcomes of children, but no effects on employment and education were found); and a set of conflicting findings (moves to low poverty neighbourhoods were found to be beneficial to girls, but harmful for boys). The use of mixed methods has shown how the potential of MTO-based policy approaches is limited by structural barriers, and the dynamics of poor families’ beliefs, backgrounds and constraints.


Public Housing School Quality Experimental Mover Affluent Neighbourhood Interim Evaluation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of EducationUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Department of Comparative Human DevelopmentUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.African American Studies and SociologyUniversity of lllinoisUrbanaUSA

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