Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Urban and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Urban and Public Affairs, PhD

Committee Chair

Kelly, Janet M.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Imbroscio, David L.

Committee Member

Imbroscio, David L.

Committee Member

Zhang, Sumei

Committee Member

Zhang, Haifeng

Author's Keywords

Housing mobility programs, Tiebout theory, Urban migration, Fiscal decentralization


Housing mobility programs have been implemented in America since the 1990s to solve poverty concentration and to improve the economic self-sufficiency of low-income families through housing subsidies. This policy was based on the assumption that mixed-income neighborhoods provide better resources and opportunities to low-income families so that program participants who relocate to low-poverty neighborhoods improve their economic status. Currently, few studies examine the effectiveness of housing mobility programs under a decentralized fiscal system. Specifically, the migration of program participants may stimulate Tiebout’s vote-with-feet mechanisms and may limit the duration of the newly-created mixed-income environment, leaving poverty concentration and poverty unsolved. This research uses a dynamic economic model to analyze the impacts of housing mobility programs on local taxes and public goods in both the sending and receiving municipalities and the impacts of this change on further migration of different economic classes. An ANOVA model and a MANCOVA model were used to support the findings from the economic model. The ANOVA results indicate that residents of higher-poverty municipalities did not pay more taxes for welfare and health than residents of lower-poverty municipalities did because the expenses mostly came from intergovernmental funds. However, the MANCOVA results show that the percentage of population growth between 2000 and 2012 in the low-poverty municipalities with more low-income affordable housing program participants was still significantly smaller than that in the low-poverty municipalities with no/fewer low-income affordable housing program participants. These findings accord with the dynamic economic model, which suggests that even if the non-poor living with the poor do not pay more taxes for the public goods used exclusively by the poor, like welfare and health, further migration may still occur under a decentralized fiscal system. Property taxation requires wealthier residents to pay more for each unit of other nonexclusive public goods than the poor do. The research implies that funding anti-poverty programs at the local level rather than the national level may stimulate the out-migration of wealthier residents. As wealthier residents exit the newly mixed-income municipalities, poverty may re-concentrate, limiting the effectiveness of housing mobility programs.