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Shelter from the Storm: Upgrading Housing Infrastructure in Latin American Slums

  • Sebastian Galiani
  • Paul Gertler
  • Ryan Cooper
  • Sebastian Martinez
  • Adam Ross
  • Raimundo Undurraga

This paper provides empirical evidence on the causal effects that upgrading slum dwellings has on the living conditions of the extremely poor. In particular, we study the impact of providing better houses in situ to slum dwellers in El Salvador, Mexico and Uruguay. We experimentally evaluate the impact of a housing project run by the NGO TECHO which provides basic pre-fabricated houses to members of extremely poor population groups in Latin America. The main objective of the program is to improve household well-being. Our findings show that better houses have a positive effect on overall housing conditions and general well-being: treated households are happier with their quality of life. In two countries, we also document improvements in children's health; in El Salvador, slum dwellers also feel that they are safer. We do not find this result, however, in the other two experimental samples. There are no other noticeable robust effects on the possession of durable goods or in terms of labor outcomes. Our results are robust in terms of both internal and external validity because they are derived from similar experiments in three different Latin American countries.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19322.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19322
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  1. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(1), pages 87-130, January.
  2. repec:aei:rpbook:24858 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Devoto, Florencia & Duflo, Esther & Dupas, Pascaline & Parienté, William & Pons, Vincent, 2011. "Happiness on Tap: Piped Water Adoption in Urban Morocco," CEPR Discussion Papers 8326, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist, 2004. "Treatment effect heterogeneity in theory and practice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages C52-C83, 03.
  5. Gertler, Paul & Heckman, James & Pinto, Rodrigo & Zanolini, Arianna & Vermeerch, Christel & Walker, Susan & Chang, Susan M. & Grantham-McGregor, Sally, 2013. "Labor Market Returns to Early Childhood Stimulation: A 20-year Followup to an Experimental Intervention in Jamaica," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt8sz5p9vd, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  6. Field, Erica Marie, 2005. "Property Rights and Investment in Urban Slums," Scholarly Articles 3634150, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Wenli Li, 2009. "Residential housing and personal bankruptcy," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q2, pages 19-29.
  8. Takeuchi, Akie & Cropper, Maureen & Bento, Antonio, 2008. "Measuring the welfare effects of slum improvement programs: The case of Mumbai," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 65-84, July.
  9. Erica Field, 2007. "Entitled to Work: Urban Property Rights and Labor Supply in Peru," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1561-1602, November.
  10. Benjamin Marx & Thomas Stoker & Tavneet Suri, 2013. "The Economics of Slums in the Developing World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 187-210, Fall.
  11. Sebastian Galiani & Guillermo Cruces, 2005. "Fertility and Female Labor Supply in Latin America: New Causal Evidence," Working Papers 84, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Jun 2007.
  12. Gasparini, Leonardo C. & Pinto, Santiago M., 2006. "Equality of opportunity and optimal cash and in-kind policies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 143-169, January.
  13. Abhijit Banerjee & Sebastian Galiani & Jim Levinsohn & Zo� McLaren & Ingrid Woolard, 2008. "Why has unemployment risen in the New South Africa?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(4), pages 715-740, October.
  14. Lawrence F. Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Moving To Opportunity In Boston: Early Results Of A Randomized Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 607-654, May.
  15. Matias D. Cattaneo & Sebastian Galiani & Paul J. Gertler & Sebastian Martinez & Rocio Titiunik, 2009. "Housing, Health, and Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 75-105, February.
  16. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, 01.
  17. Sebastian Galiani & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2010. "Property Rights for the Poor: Effects of Land Titling," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0103, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  18. Changrong Deng & Yongkai Ma & Yao-Min Chiang, 2009. "The Dynamic Behavior of Chinese Housing Prices," International Real Estate Review, Asian Real Estate Society, vol. 12(2), pages 121-134.
  19. Sen, Amartya, 1999. "Commodities and Capabilities," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195650389.
  20. Erica Field, 2005. "Property Rights and Investment in Urban Slums," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 279-290, 04/05.
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