The Effects of Public Housing on Children: Evidence from Colombia
The paper analyzes the effect of Colombia's ambitious "Free Housing" program on children's educational outcomes. The program was generous, giving free housing to beneficiaries in desirable areas. We evaluate the program by leveraging housing lotteries and linking applicants to their children. We find that public housing increases high school graduation by seven percentage points – a seventeen percent increase relative to the control mean – and boosts exit exam scores and college-going. Using a survey to explore mechanisms, lottery winners report better environmental conditions and shorter commute times. Their children also attend better schools and live in neighborhoods with less crime.