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Measuring Housing Insecurity: Index Development Using American Housing Survey Data


Authors: Murdoch, James     Brahmachari, Meghna     Okyere, Dennis     2M Research     Moumen, Fouad     Streiff, Sean     Econometrica, Inc.     

Report Acceptance Date: January 2022 (227 pages)

Posted Date: June 27, 2023

The availability of affordable and decent housing promotes individual and social well-being, as well as positive outcomes in health, educational attainment, and employment. Although housing insecurity—the lack of stable occupancy of a decent, safe, and affordable housing unit—is crucial for researchers and policymakers to understand, its inconsistent measurement over time has made it difficult to track reliably. To address this, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) developed a Housing Insecurity Research Module for the 2019 American Housing Survey, and thus began work toward constructing a standardized set of questions to measure the continuum of housing insecurity.

Researchers used these data to develop an index of housing insecurity based on three dimensions: lack of affordability; lack of stable occupancy, and lack of safety and decency. The team developed measurement models for each dimension using all available HIRM variables and additional housing insecurity variables from the CORE AHS, validated them to construct “gold standard” classifications and six distinct profiles of housing insecurity, and finally developed a set of transferrable, reduced measures of housing insecurity.

The authors provided goodness-of-fit statistics to show their measurement models map well to the 2019 AHS data and conducted Differential Item Functioning (DIF) tests on “gold standard” factor scores generated from the measurement models to determine that they are statistically sound measures of the HI dimensions. Through Latent Class Analysis (LCA) of the “gold standard” factor scores, the authors identified six profiles spanning the continuum of housing insecurity. The profiles were validated against three external validators associated with housing insecurity in the research literature: food insecurity, poor householder health, and shelter poverty (a composite measure of difficulties paying for non-shelter necessities). Reduced dimensions and profiles were created. The reduced measures are meant to be practical and transferrable measures of overall housing insecurity as well as of each dimension of housing insecurity. The reduced versions of the profiles were correlated against the “gold standard” profile and the three external validators to examine the extent to which the reduced measures behave compared to the “gold standard.” Overall results are promising for accurately measuring housing insecurity, yet more research is needed to ensure consistent results across probability samples.

Publication Categories: Publications     Affordable Housing     AHS Data Based Reports      Other    


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