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Urban services for the poor

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This World Bank research on urban services has focused on evaluating the value of public services, how service delivery can be improved, and how they can be better financed.

Contact: Uwe Deichmann, Udeichmann@worldbank.org

 

  Research outputs Project documents 

 

An estimated one-third of all urban residents live in informal settlements or slums—the vast majority in developing countries. Conditions in such areas vary widely from dismal, temporary shelter in squatter settlements to relatively well-constructed, informal housing that may persist for decades.

Common characteristics include uncertain tenure status, poor basic services such as water and sanitation, low-grade construction and overcrowded living conditions. Apart from physical deprivation, slum dwellers also often face more subtle disadvantages such as poor labor market integration and the social stigma attached to an inferior residential location. With continuing rapid growth of urban areas, improving the life of slum dwellers is a high priority for national and city governments and the international community.

Research conducted in recent years has focused on evaluating the value of public services, how service delivery can be improved, and how they can be better financed. Much of this work relied on detailed household surveys in four cities in India.

 
Research Outputs
 

In assessing the value of public services, broader social welfare benefits are significant
Better estimates of how residents value services inform strategies for appropriate user fees and cost recovery. This study on water supply in two Indian cities found that willingness-to-pay estimates that consider only individual or private benefits may underestimate the overall social welfare from investing in service supply especially among the poorest residents. The paper further demonstrates how policy simulations based on these estimates help prioritize spatial targeting of interventions according to efficiency and equity criteria.
  • "Valuing access to water - a spatial hedonic approach applied to Indian cities," Luc Anselin, Nancy Lozano-Gracia, Uwe Deichmann and Somik V. LallWorld Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4533, 2008.

    An important infrastructure policy issue for rapidly growing cities in developing countries is how to raise fiscal revenues to finance basic services in a fair and efficient manner. This paper applies hedonic analysis that explicitly accounts for spatial spillovers to derive the value of improved access to water in the Indian cities of Bhopal and Bangalore. The findings suggest that by looking at individual or private benefits only, the analysis may underestimate the overall social welfare from investing in service supply especially among the poorest residents. The paper further demonstrates how policy simulations based on these estimates help prioritize spatial targeting of interventions according to efficiency and equity criteria.

 


Last updated: 2009-09-11




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