School Proximity, Attendance, Stability, and Achievement among Homeless Students


More than one million students in the United States experience homelessness annually. Among their challenges is getting to school. This paper uses novel administrative data and a natural experiment in shelter scarcity to assess the effects of school proximity. For the average homeless K-8 student, a 10-mile longer commute leads to 6-13 percent more absences, a quarter higher probability of changing schools, and a decline in math test scores of 0.03-0.11 standard deviations. A complementary difference-in-differences design reinforces the importance of distance. The prevalence of housing instability in public schools suggests broad policy relevance.

Mike Cassidy
Mike Cassidy
Postdoc in Economics

Mike Cassidy is a postdoc in economics at Princeton University.