Come out and play: Public space recovery, social capital and citizen security

Abstract: 'This paper examines the effects of renovating deteriorated public spaces on local socioeconomic outcomes. We analyse the impacts of a randomised experiment implemented in 28 fragile neighbourhoods of Santiago, Chile. Our findings indicate that the renovation of local squares led to increased use and maintenance of the public space, enhanced neighbourhood engagement, and a stronger sense of ownership among residents, along with a reduction in leisure activities outside the neighbourhood. Moreover, treated neighbourhoods experienced improvements in public security perceptions both within the square and in the broader neighbourhood area. We also observe positive effects on trust (among acquaintances) and participation in community organisations. By exploring heterogeneous treatment effects across neighbourhoods, we do not find evidence supporting theories emphasising the joint determination of public security and social capital. Instead, our results suggest that the effects are better explained by increased neighbourhood use, particularly in areas that are densely populated and have a higher proportion of social housing.'


IZA Institute of Labor Economics