Housing affordability and children's well-being: Evidence from the National Survey of America's Families

Joseph Harkness, Sandra J Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Affordability is a major housing problem for many families. However, no research has documented the harmful effects of unaffordable housing on children. It could hurt poor children by restricting the consumption of other basic necessities or stressing parents' emotional reserves. This article takes a first look at whether poor children living in areas with more affordable housing fare better than their counterparts in less affordable areas. Results suggest that they do. But some models also suggest that the best educational outcomes are found in the most and least affordable housing markets, the latter likely because of unmeasured variables. Affordable housing has a stronger impact on older children than on younger ones, indicating that the effects may be cumulative. Consistent with studies on the effects of income, affordability appears to affect poor children's well-being primarily through its impact on the material consumption of basic necessities when they are young.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-255
Number of pages33
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005



  • Affordability
  • Families and children
  • Poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies

Cite this