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Case Study Compendium: Densification in Mexican Cities

Case Study Compendium: Understanding the Barriers and Enablers to Densification at the Metropolitan Level

Qualitative Evidence from Seven Mexican Cities

Final Report
December 2016

Principal Investigator:

Diane Davis

Research Associates: 

Nélida Escobedo Ruiz
Margaret Scott
Research Assistants:
Fernando Granados Franco
Francisco Lara García
David Schoen Parente


This document, the second volume of this report presents fieldwork findings from seven cities examined by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s Governance Team as part of the larger INFONAVIT project titled “Rethinking Social Housing in Mexico.” The case study compendium summarized in the upcoming pages was conducted with an eye to investigating the barriers and enablers to the densification of social housing in Mexico. Its principal focus is the post-2012 period—that is, after new subsidy policies built around the establishment of the perímetros de contención urbana (PCUs) were institutionalized at the federal level. Our aim has been to understand the array of demographic, topographical, economic, social, and politicoinstitutional conditions at the metropolitan level that have had some bearing on each city’s densification outcomes. We began by questioning whether cities of different sizes and income or employment characteristics might respond differently to the new policy incentives. To answer these questions, we examined both small and large cities, those with different economic drivers (industry, commerce, tourism, etc.), and those with different political and administrative legacies.