Shelter from the Storm: Upgrading Housing Infrastructure in Latin American Slums
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.
We are grateful to Andrés Drenik, Fernando Callorda, María Lucía Yanguas and Iván Torre for their skillful research assistance. We are also thankful for the very useful comments received at various seminars and conferences. Financial support was provided by 3ie, ESRC, IADB and the World Bank. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Galiani, Sebastián & Gertler, Paul J. & Undurraga, Raimundo & Cooper, Ryan & Martínez, Sebastián & Ross, Adam, 2017. "Shelter from the storm: Upgrading housing infrastructure in Latin American slums," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 187-213. citation courtesy of