THURSDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- When families were given vouchers to move from impoverished neighborhoods to ones that were less poor, the adults in those families experienced lasting improvements in mental health and well-being, new research says.
And, these improvements occurred even though the adults weren't making significantly more money after their move.
"If you take a family in a high poverty neighborhood and move them to an area where the poverty level is about 13 percent less than where they're currently living, the increase in happiness is about equal to the gain in happiness from a rise of about $13,000 in income," said study author Jens Ludwig, the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy at the University of Chicago.
And, since the average income was only around $13,000 to start with, the equivalent of a $13,000 increase in income would have a huge impact, she added.
Results of the study are published in the Sept. 21 issue of the journal Science.
Nearly 9 million Americans live in neighborhoods with extreme poverty, according to background information in the study. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) started a program called Moving To Opportunity for almost 5,000 people living in low-income public housing in extremely impoverished areas. The hope was that moving families from very poor neighborhoods to areas with less poverty would improve the overall quality of life. Cities included in the program included Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
A previous study from this program examined the effect of neighborhood on obesity and type 2 diabetes risk, and found that women who moved to areas with less poverty were 19 percent less likely to be obese and 22 percent less likely to have type 2 diabetes.
For the new study, families
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