This proposal seeks support for an expansion of the evaluation of an innovative social policy/experiment to include consideration of the impact of the intervention on the mental health of participants. The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration used a randomized lottery to offer some public housing families but not others the chance to relocate to less disadvantaged neighborhoods using a rental housing subsidy. The program thus experimentally generated large differences in residential neighborhood characteristics for otherwise comparable groups of low-income families. A follow-up study approximately 5 years after randomization found that the women in the treatment groups had a significantly lower estimated prevalence of Serious Mental Illness (SMI) than controls. However these results were not based on a diagnostic interview, which made it impossible to distinguish effects on onset, persistence, and severity of particular disorders or the pathways through which effects occurred. This proposal seeks funding to expand a new follow-up survey of 4498 MTO mothers approximately 10 years after random assignment to include an explicit assessment of DSM-IV disorders, in order to address the following questions: 1. What are the effects of moving to a less disadvantaged neighborhood on the onset and persistence of DSM-IV mental disorders both in the total sample and in sub-samples defined by baseline risk factors? 2. What are the pathways through which these aggregate mental health effects occurred? 3. How do the effects of neighborhood mobility on mental health specify the effects of the intervention on other outcomes related to work, family, schooling, criminal involvement, and basic decision making? The overarching goal of the proposed research is to understand as much as possible about the processes by which neighborhoods affect mental health. We are also committed to making our data available to other researchers in the medical and social sciences.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section (CLHP)
Program Officer
Pringle, Beverly
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National Bureau of Economic Research
United States
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Kessler, Ronald C; Duncan, Greg J; Gennetian, Lisa A et al. (2014) Associations of housing mobility interventions for children in high-poverty neighborhoods with subsequent mental disorders during adolescence. JAMA 311:937-48
Sciandra, Matthew; Sanbonmatsu, Lisa; Duncan, Greg J et al. (2013) Long-term effects of the Moving to Opportunity residential mobility experiment on crime and delinquency. J Exp Criminol 9:
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