Neighbourhood effects and social capital in urban housing: Evidence from random neighbourhood assignment

Project Active from to Cities

In Africa, the population living in cities is set to triple by 2050. Government policy will play a key role in planning urban environments, including providing affordable housing and public goods for people moving to new urban neighbourhoods.

How can urban policies be designed to promote flourishing communities and efficient delivery of public services? How can policy help to foster cooperation, trust, and contribution to public goods in growing cities? When public housing is used as a policy tool, how can it best be designed to encourage successful new neighbourhoods, by influencing who lives together and creating opportunities for residents to build their communities?

This project aims to provide causal evidence on what determines whether new urban communities thrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a rapidly growing city with high rates of migration from rural areas. Policymakers have responded by building many large public housing sites on the outskirts of cities, where up to 20,000 households at a time will move in together.

  • This project will look at the effect of the composition of new neighbourhoods, in terms of class, background, and culture.
  • Further, researchers will investigate whether living with people who are different to you change your attitudes and prejudices toward others. . Importantly in this context, they will study whether urban households adjust to co-habitating with migrants from rural areas and different regions.
  • The project will also study the effect of urban design on communities by using variation in the characteristics of medium-density blocks in terms of location, orientation, mixed use-design, and distance to roads and facilities.
  • A key outcome of this study will be the quality of public goods provided in large public housing sites.
  • This project aims to create evidence useful both to the Ethiopian government in designing and improving its existing housing projects as well as other urban planners, and trying to mitigate the negative side effects associated with rapid urbanisation.

This project builds on an existing IGC research project studying the effect of winning a lottery to buy a highly subsidised unit in these large housing sites.