Housing Spending Affects Kids’ Smarts, Johns Hopkins Study Says

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photo via LSNC
photo via LSNC

Affordable housing isn’t just good for cities, new research from Johns Hopkins says–it’s also good for children’s brains. According to Sandra Newman, a professor of policy studies, families that spend more than 50% of their income on housing, children’s cognitive ability shows a decline. The same is true when housing accounts for less than 20%. The sweet spot? “Families spending about 30 percent of their income on housing had children with the best cognitive outcomes,” Newman told the Hopkins Hub.

Some of the reasons are intuitively obvious. When families spend the bulk of their money on housing, they’re spending less on things like book, computers, trips to museums, and other educational tools and opportunities. And families that spend only a small portion of their income on housing tend to end up in distressed neighborhoods that also make it hard for children to learn.

But when families were able to hit that 30% mark, they spent more on their kids. Families that decreased the proportion of income spent on housing from 50% to 30% spent an average of $98 more on their kids. And even more surprisingly, when families with extremely low housing spending increased their housing costs — from 10% to 30% of their income — they also spent more money on child enrichment– an average of $170 more, in fact.



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