The panel on “the challenges of urban development” in the Mind the Gap Conference that took place in Cuernavaca June 15-17 included presentations by Marco Gonzalez from the University of Toronto, Jerushah Rangasami from Impact Consulting and Juan Vargas from the Universidad del Rosario in Colombia. Sebastian Martinez from the IDB moderated.
Marco Gonzalez studied the relationship between urban infrastructure and economic development focusing on the experimental evidence of the impact of paving streets on property values and household level outcomes in Veracruz in Mexico.
The main findings are that there are significant increases in property values, and there is an increase in consumption particularly in durable goods, specifically in households that already have access to financial services. Gonzalez performed a cost benefit analisis that showed that a private gain/cost ratio of 1.09.
Jerushah Rangasami presented a study on the impact of living in a formal house on the quality of life in South Africa. Quality of life was measured by a group of variables that included health, education, economic well being, safety, social cohesion and the physical environment.
The quantitative findings show no trends in terms of health outcomes (the analysis covers only 2 years), in one community people in formal housing are more likely to be attending an educational institution.
The qualitative analysis shows significantly improved perceived quality of life on various well being indicators.
Juan Vargas from the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota, presented the impact of introducing text messaging on access to social services among displaced population in Colombia.
In order to receive legally mandated benefits, internally displaced people are required to register with Accion Social in a national registry. The current registry system takes longer than the two weeks required by the law to ascertain benefit qualification, and the system is subject to corruption and abuse.
The research asked the question on whether sending an SMS would improve benefit awareness and take up and empower internally displaced people.
Using a randomized experiment the research shows that informing through SMS messages increases benefit awareness, and, to a less extent, take up rates, particularly in medical services