When thousands of poor families were given federal housing subsidies in the early 1990s to move out of impoverished neighborhoods, social scientists expected the experience of living in more prosperous communities would pay off in better jobs, higher incomes and more education.
That did not happen. But more than 10 years later, those same families say their lives have improved in a surprising way: They report being much happier than a comparison group of poor families who were not offered subsidies to move, a finding that was published on Thursday in the journal Science.
As I've long said, the worst thing about being poor in modern America is not that you can't afford to buy enough food, it's that you can't afford to get away from other poor people. So, it's not surprising that having the feds pay poor people to live away from quite so many other poor people makes the subsidy beneficiaries happier, even if it doesn't make them smarter or harder working.
But, did the researchers deign to ask their subjects' new neighbors if having poor people subsidized to move in next to them made them happier?