This book explores a new method of monitoring the quality of urban life, combining objective and subjective information to assess quality of life by using the market price of housing and individuals’ life satisfaction in six Latin American cities: Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, Medellin,
Montevideo and San Jose. Housing prices show how the market values characteristics of not only a house itself, but also its surroundings. Life satisfaction, though less measurable, can be approximated using a simple survey question.
Those measurements can be used to answer questions such as the following:
• What problems have the greatest impact on people’s opinion of city management, and which have the most widespread effects?
• Is the city perceived as improving or growing worse in certain aspects, and do perceptions match objective indicators?
• Do gaps between perception and reality differ among parts of the city, especially high and low-income areas?
• Where can homebuilders most feasibly seek solutions to problems such as inadequate road infrastructure, a lack of recreation areas or poor safety conditions?
• Which problems should be addressed first by government authorities in light of their impact on the well-being of various groups of individuals and in light of private actors’ ability to respond?
• Which homeowners derive the greatest economic benefit from public infrastructure or services?
• When can or should property taxes be used to finance the provision of certain services—or the solution of certain problems?
This book suggests that it is possible to put into practice a monitoring system that is easy to operate and entails reasonable costs, but also has a solid conceptual basis. Long the ideal of many scholars and other observers, such a system may now be close to becoming a reality, and one with
significant potential for contributing to public decision-making processes.