Neighbourhoods of opportunity? Moving to public housing in Addis Ababa

Project Active from to Cities

Governments all over the world use housing assistance programmes to improve the living standards of the poor. In Ethiopia, like many developing countries today, these programmes take the form of large-scale household estates built in new neighbourhoods by the government and then given away either at subsidised prices or for free. These programmes may directly improve the living conditions of beneficiary households but may also alter neighbourhood characteristics, implying differential outcomes for many households moving to government housing.

Thus, it is important for policymakers to address these questions and concerns when designing public housing programs:

  • How does growing up in a slum differ from living in formal, government built housing?
  • Should government housing built far away from slums to cut costs, or would it be worth spending more to house households closer to their original neighbourhoods?
  • How do the people that you grow up with and around affect current and later life outcomes?
  • Should housing policy be promoting or incentivising mixed-income neighbourhoods or allowing households to chose freely even if that leads to segregated neighbourhoods?

This project will collect data on households who won lotteries for government housing in Ethiopia, more than six years after the housing was built. The lottery provides random variation in who moves to these new neighbourhoods, as well as in who lives next to whom in the new housing sites. This natural experiment will allow for the study of how neighbourhoods and neighbours affect later life outcomes.