Moving to a Wealthier Neighborhood Is as Traumatic as Going to War
July 8, 2014 10:33 PM   Subscribe

Over the past few decades, urban policy has focused on breaking up clusters of poverty, planning cities so that poor residents could live in areas that also had middle-class people. Does this new research mean projects like MTO are actually a bad thing? “When we first showed these results, somebody said, ‘Well, don’t send them to new neighborhoods,’” says Kessler. “Well wait a second, you’re now dealing the girls some pretty bad outcomes. But if you do send them, the boys are getting bad outcomes. What if you have one boy and one girl?”
posted by surenoproblem (9 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
oh wow, that comment section.
posted by empath at 10:42 PM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's the JAMA interview with the lead author, and here's the abstract.

(And that TNR comment section is a disaster area.)
posted by gingerest at 11:17 PM on July 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

So the control group of families didn't move, rather than moving them laterally to neighborhoods of comparable wealth...
posted by XMLicious at 11:47 PM on July 8, 2014

There were actually two control groups. One was given "a standard rent-subsidy voucher without restriction on location as well as standard mobility counseling" (i.e. they could move wherever they could find Section 8 housing) and the other was offered no new assistance (i.e. didn't move unless they found the resources to do so independently, to whom I will refer henceforth as "families that stayed put".)

What Kessler et al found that's being remarked upon here is that boys in the group that moved to wealthier neighborhoods were more likely to develop major depression, PTSD, and conduct disorder than boys whose families stayed put; boys whose familes got the unrestricted vouchers had worse PTSD but not other problems than boys whose families stayed put. Girls whose families moved, regardless of where, had lower rates of depression and conduct disorder than those whose families stayed put.

Kessler says the anthropology interviews, which I don't think have been published anywhere yet, attribute this to degree of welcomeness in their new neighborhoods.

Here's the full original MTO report (large pdf) if you want the full data collection methodology.
posted by gingerest at 12:31 AM on July 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

"In follow-up interviews conducted 10 to 15 years later, boys reported higher proportions of major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and conduct disorder than boys within the control group—rates of PTSD comparable to those of combat soldiers."
posted by mr. digits at 8:35 AM on July 9, 2014

As for the comments: "Fight Club is the voice of the would-be emasculated generation."
posted by mr. digits at 8:36 AM on July 9, 2014

Well, which commenter's axe-grindy theory should we examine? That boys who haven't been "emasculated" won't take kindly to "feminized, demeaning liberal enclaves"? Or perhaps it's because rich boys will date poor girls, but rich girls won't give poor boys the time of day because "status is more important for women than it is for men". Of course a "liberal sink hole" like Harvard would never study these compelling hypotheses. How did these morons even find this article, you'd think the low picture-to-words ratio would have scared them off.
posted by adecusatis at 8:42 AM on July 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

If anyone wants to play the devil's advocate I kind of would enjoy them arguing that Fight Club "is the voice of the would-be emasculated generation," but that just falls under macabre curiosity on my part.
posted by mr. digits at 8:57 AM on July 9, 2014

I kinda think the TNR article got posted to a MRA website.
posted by gingerest at 4:37 PM on July 9, 2014

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