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Moving to Opportunity: Final Impacts Evaluation Science Article Data, 2008-2010 (ICPSR 34860)

Principal Investigator(s): Ludwig, Jens, University of Chicago. Harris School of Public Policy, and National Bureau of Economic Research; Duncan, Greg J., University of California-Irvine. School of Education; Gennetian, Lisa, New York University. Institute of Human Development and Social Change, and National Bureau of Economic Research; Katz, Lawrence, Harvard University. Department of Economics, and National Bureau of Economic Research; Kessler, Ronald, Harvard University. Harvard Medical School. Department of Health Care Policy; Kling, Jeffrey, Congressional Budget Office, and National Bureau of Economic Research; Sanbonmatsu, Lisa, National Bureau of Economic Research


The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program was a randomized housing experiment administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that gave low-income families living in high-poverty areas the chance to move to lower-poverty areas. This Restricted Access Dataset (RAD) includes data from the 3,273 adults interviewed as part of the MTO long-term evaluation and is comprised of variables analyzed for the article "Neighborhood Effects on the Long-Term Well-Being of Low-Income Adults" that was published in the journal Science on September 21, 2012. The article focused on subjective well-being, physical and mental health, social networks, neighborhoods, housing, and economic self-sufficiency. Families were tracked from the baseline survey (1994-1998) through the long-term evaluation survey fielding period (2008-2010) with the purpose of determining the effects of "neighborhood" on participating families from five United States cities. Households were randomly assigned to one of three groups:

  1. The low-poverty voucher (LPV) group (also called the experimental group) received Section 8 rental assistance certificates or vouchers that they could use only in census tracts with 1990 poverty rates below 10 percent. The families received mobility counseling and help in leasing a new unit. One year after relocating, families could use their voucher to move again if they wished, without any special constraints on location.
  2. The traditional voucher (TRV) group (also called the Section 8 group) received regular Section 8 certificates or vouchers that they could use anywhere; these families received no special mobility counseling.
  3. The control group received no certificates or vouchers through MTO, but continued to be eligible for project-based housing assistance and other social programs and services to which they would otherwise be entitled.

The dataset contains all outcomes and mediators analyzed for the Science article, as well as a variety of demographic and other baseline measures that were controlled for in the analysis. Demographic information includes age, gender, race/ethnicity, employment status, and education level.

Access Notes

  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Please log in so we can determine if you are with a member institution and have access to these data files.

    One or more files in this collection have special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more.

    This data collection may not be used for any purpose other than statistical reporting and analysis. Use of these data to learn the identity of any person or establishment is prohibited. To protect respondent privacy, this data collection is restricted from general dissemination. To obtain this file, researchers must agree to the terms and conditions of a Restricted Data Use Agreement in accordance with existing ICPSR servicing policies.


No downloadable data files available.

Study Description


Ludwig, Jens, Greg J. Duncan, Lisa Gennetian, Lawrence Katz, Ronald Kessler, Jeffrey Kling, and Lisa Sanbonmatsu. Moving to Opportunity: Final Impacts Evaluation Science Article Data, 2008-2010. ICPSR34860-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-10-04. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34860.v2

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34860.v2

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (C-CHI-00808)
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging (P30-AG012810, R01-AG031259, and P01-AG005842-22S1)
  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01-HD040404 and R01-HD040444)
  • National Opinion Research Center. Population Research Center (R24-HD051152-04)
  • United States Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences (R305U070006)
  • National Science Foundation (SES-0527615)
  • University of Chicago. Center for Health Administration Studies
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (R49-CE000906)
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health (R01-MH077026)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    crime, education, employment, fear of crime, financial support, happiness, health, housing, housing conditions, housing programs, housing units, job training, low income groups, lower class, mental health, neighborhood conditions, neighborhoods, poverty, public safety, relocation, social integration, social isolation, welfare services

Smallest Geographic Unit:    city

Geographic Coverage:    Baltimore, Boston, California, Chicago, Illinois, Los Angeles, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York (state), New York City, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1994--2010

Date of Collection:   

  • 2008-06--2010-04

Unit of Observation:    individual

Universe:    Adults in households with children in public or other government-subsidized, project-based housing in selected high-poverty areas of Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, and New York City, NY.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The data are at the individual-level and include some household level measures and census tract characteristics, such as neighborhood poverty levels; however, the dataset does not include specific census tract identifiers.

The data analyzed for the Science article and included in the RAD come from survey data, physical measurements, and also census data linked to participants' residential address histories. For additional information on the data in this collection, please see the Original P.I. Documentation section of the ICPSR Codebook.

For additional information on the Moving to Opportunity program, users may refer to the Moving to Opportunity Web site.



The RAD consists of data (related to the Science article) on the 3,273 adults interviewed for the MTO long-term survey. The sampling frame for selection into the MTO long-term survey sample was one adult from each of the 4,604 households who were randomized during the baseline survey between 1994 and 1998. One "sample adult" was identified from each household by giving priority to female adults who were more likely to be caretakers of the children. The priority order for selecting both the MTO interim and final evaluation samples was: female heads of the core household, female spouses of the core household head, female baseline heads, female spouses of the baseline head, and finally, non-female heads of the core households. Note that the baseline head is often but not always the same person as the sample adult. For the long-term survey, the sample adults from all low-poverty voucher and control group households were selected for interview and, for budgetary reasons, the sample adults from only a random two-thirds of the traditional voucher group households were selected for interview. Youth ages 10 to 20 in the households were also interviewed, however, the data used for the Science article only includes adult respondents. For additional information on sampling, please see the Original P.I. Documentation section of the ICPSR Codebook.

Time Method:    Longitudinal: Panel


This collection contains several variables related to census tract characteristics that have been weighted for analysis in the Science article. For further analysis of the data, users may wish to apply the weight variable F_WT_TOTSVY (Total Weight for Final Survey Self-Report Data), which is the product of three component weights: (1) Randomization ratio weight, (2) Survey sample selection weight, and (3) Phase 2 subsample weight. For a detailed description on weights, please see the Weighting Information section within the ICPSR Codebook.

Mode of Data Collection:    audio computer-assisted self interview (ACASI), computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI), computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI), face-to-face interview, telephone interview

Description of Variables:   

The RAD contains variables that have been modified for analysis in the Science article "Neighborhood Effects on the Long-Term Well-Being of Low-Income Adults." For a detailed description of the variables in this collection, please see the Original P.I. Documentation section of the ICPSR Codebook.

Response Rates:    The overall effective response rate (ERR) for the adult survey was 89.6 percent, and the ERRs by MTO treatment group were similar: 90.8 percent for the low-poverty voucher group, 86.6 percent for the traditional voucher group, and 90.0 percent for the control group.

Presence of Common Scales:    The depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder measures included on the dataset were assessed via the World Health Organization's Composite International Diagnostic Interview (see Kessler and Ustün (2004) for more information). The survey also included the Kessler 6 (K6), which consists of six questions and is the most widely used scale of nonspecific psychological distress in the literature (see Furukawa et al. (2003) and Kessler et al. (2003) for more information). Furukawa, T. A., Kessler, R. C., Slade, T., and Andrews, G. (2003). The performance of the K6 and K10 screening scales for psychological distress in the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being. Psychological Medicine, 33(2), 357-362. Kessler, R. C., Barker, P. R., Colpe, L. J., Epstein, J. F., Gfroerer, J. C., Hiripi, E., Howes, M. J., et al. (2003). Screening for serious mental illness in the general population. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60(2), 184-189. Kessler, R. C., and Ustün, T. B. (2004). The World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative Version of the World Health Organization (WHO) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 13(2), 93-121.

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2013-09-09

Version History:

  • 2013-10-04 The data has been updated to recode system missing values and the codebook has been revised, per P.I. request.

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