NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Raimundo Undurraga

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Working Papers

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
A fundamental question in economics is whether happiness increases pari passu with improvements in material conditions or whether humans grow accustomed to better conditions over time. We rely on a large-scale experiment to examine what kind of impact the provision of housing to extremely poor populations in Latin America has on subjective measures of well-being over time. The objective is to determine whether poor populations exhibit hedonic adaptation in happiness derived from reducing the shortfall in the satisfaction of their basic needs. Our results are conclusive. We find that subjective perceptions of well-being improve substantially for recipients of better housing but that after, on average, eight 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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