Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Affordable housing linked to children's test scores

Date:
June 9, 2014
Source:
Johns Hopkins University
Summary:
It’s long been accepted – with little science to back it up – that people should spend roughly a third of their income on housing. As it turns out, that may be about how much a low-income family should spend to optimize children’s brainpower. When a family spent more than half its income on housing, its children's reading and math scores tended to suffer, found researchers. Children's test scores also took a hit when families spent less than 20 percent of income on housing.

It's long been accepted -- with little science to back it up -- that people should spend roughly a third of their income on housing. As it turns out, that may be about how much a low-income family should spend to optimize children's brainpower.

Johns Hopkins University researchers have explored the effects of affordable housing on the cognitive development, physical health, and emotional well-being of children living in poverty. How much a family spends on housing has no impact on a child's physical or social health, they found, but when it came to cognitive ability, it is a game changer.

When a family spent more than half its income on housing, its children's reading and math scores tended to suffer, found Sandra J. Newman, a Johns Hopkins professor of policy studies, working with researcher C. Scott Holupka. Children's test scores also took a hit when families spent less than 20 percent of income on housing.

"Families spending about 30 percent of their income on housing had children with the best cognitive outcomes," said Newman, who is director of the university's Center on Housing, Neighborhoods and Communities. "It's worse when you pay too little and worse when you pay too much."

The findings are highlighted in two new journal articles, "Housing Affordability and Investments in Children," published in the Journal of Housing Economics, and "Housing Affordability and Child Well-being," published in Housing Policy Debate.

More than 88 percent of renters with the lowest incomes spent more than 30 percent of their income on rent, according to the 2009 American Community Survey. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's latest report on affordable housing states household incomes must be at least 105 percent of the area median for a family to find decent, affordable housing units.

Families in the study that spent most of their money on housing spent less on things like books, computers and educational outings needed for healthy child development, Newman and Holupka found. Families that didn't invest enough in housing likely ended up in the sort of distressed neighborhoods and inadequate dwellings that can also take a toll on children.

"The markedly poorer performance of children in families with extremely low housing cost burdens undercuts the housing policy assumption that a lower housing cost burden is always best," Newman said. "Rather than finding a bargain in a good neighborhood, they're living in low-quality housing with spillover effects on their children's development."

Newman and Holupka found families that had obtained truly affordable housing, spending roughly 30 percent of their income on it, did indeed spend more money on enrichment for their kids.

When a family moved from spending more than half of its income on housing to the 30 percent ideal, it invested an average of $98 more on the children, the researchers found. Not a lot of money, but enough to make a difference. Even when families increased the amount spent on housing -- from spending 10 percent of their income to 30 percent -- they spent about $170 more on child enrichment.

"People are making trade-offs," Holupka said, "and those trade-offs have implications for their children."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Sandra J. Newman, C. Scott Holupka. Housing affordability and investments in children. Journal of Housing Economics, 2014; 24: 89 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhe.2013.11.006
  2. Sandra J. Newman, C. Scott Holupka. Housing Affordability and Child Well-Being. Housing Policy Debate, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2014.899261

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University. "Affordable housing linked to children's test scores." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140609140502.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University. (2014, June 9). Affordable housing linked to children's test scores. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140609140502.htm
Johns Hopkins University. "Affordable housing linked to children's test scores." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140609140502.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

AFP (Sep. 15, 2014) The European Commission met on Monday to coordinate aid that the EU can offer to African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins