The notable and the null: Using mixed methods to understand the diverse impacts of residential mobility programs

Stefanie DeLuca, Greg J. Duncan, Micere Keels, Ruby Mendenhall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter provides a unique contribution to the neighbourhood effects literature by demonstrating that data from in-depth interviews is capable of revealing some of the mechanisms behind unexpected quantitative findings. Such a mixed methods approach is regarded a major step forward in neighbourhood effects research. The chapter describes and attempts to explain unexpected findings from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program (mental health improvements which were not originally anticipated); a weak 'treatment' effect for many families (initial and subsequent moves to segregated, economically declining areas instead of higher opportunity neighbourhoods); null findings where large effects on individual outcomes were expected instead (MTO was primarily designed to enhance the employment prospects of adults and to improve the educational outcomes of children, but no effects on employment and education were found); and a set of conflicting findings (moves to low poverty neighbourhoods were found to be beneficial to girls, but harmful for boys). The use of mixed methods has shown how the potential of MTO-based policy approaches is limited by structural barriers, and the dynamics of poor families' beliefs, backgrounds and constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeighbourhood effects research
Subtitle of host publicationNew perspectives
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9789400723092
ISBN (Print)9400723083, 9789400723085
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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