Housing Conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1995-2006

Posted on October 31, 2012 • Filed under: Culture, Enviromental Issues, Latin America News, Social Issues

This paper discusses the evolution of housing conditions in urban areas of
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) from 1995 to 2006 based on data
from household surveys done in 18 countries that comprise 95 percent of the
urban population of the region. The results indicate that, on average, the
proportion of urban households facing housing shortages is declining. This
decline holds for households of all income levels, particularly those in the
lower quintiles of the income distribution structure. Among the housing
problems faced by the urban population of the region, the most pervasive is
lack of infrastructure, followed by deficient building materials and
overcrowding. The size of the problem is still large. The estimates made in
this study indicate that in 2006 lack of infrastructure affected almost
19 million households. Further, about seven million households needed a
new shelter and nine million needed significant improvements to their houses
due to poor construction materials or overcrowding. Cross-country analysis
shows that each country was facing a different combination of problems and
was improving its housing conditions at a different pace, which indicates that
it is highly unlikely that a “one-size-fits-all” solution exists. Future housing
needs are estimated at three million units per year for the next two decades.
Absent the capacity of the formal housing sector to supply these houses,
households will be driven to informal solutions that contribute to the large
qualitative shortages still afflicting the region.
Keywords: Housing conditions, Latin America and the Caribbean, household

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