NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Raimundo Undurraga

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April 2015The Half-Life of Happiness: Hedonic Adaptation in the Subjective Well-Being of Poor Slum Dwellers to a Large Improvement in Housing
with Sebastian Galiani, Paul J. Gertler: w21098
Subjective well-being may not improve in step with increases in material well-being due to hedonic adaptation, a psychological process that attenuates the long-term emotional impact of a favorable or unfavorable change in circumstances, such that people’s happiness eventually returns to a stable reference level. We use a multi-country field experiment to examine the impact of the provision of improved housing to extremely poor populations on subjective measures of well-being to test whether poor populations exhibit hedonic adaptation when their basic housing needs are met. After sixteen months, we find that subjective perceptions of well-being improve substantially for recipients of better housing but that after, on average, eight additional months, 60% of that gain disappears.
August 2013Shelter from the Storm: Upgrading Housing Infrastructure in Latin American Slums
with Sebastian Galiani, Paul Gertler, Ryan Cooper, Sebastian Martinez, Adam Ross: w19322
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 als...

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