Global perceptions of tenure security: Looking beyond the formalisation of property rights

Wherever we live in the world, our homes are key to our sense of wellbeing. Housing and land security are also key to a country’s development and economic growth. To improve security, policy makers often focus on formalising land and housing rights. Yet this analysis finds that formalisation alone is not enough to improve tenure security. Moreover, formalising property rights does not always change how secure people feel – a crucial determinant for driving productive investments in property and participation in property markets.

Our new analysis of the 2018 Prindex survey, covering 33 countries, reveals key factors affecting how secure people feel in their property rights. We find that past experience of eviction and knowledge of how to protect property rights are critical – both have a greater effect on perceptions than formalisation. For example, renters who have experienced eviction are about 15% more likely to feel insecure than those who have not, irrespective of whether or not they have documents proving their rights. The survey also shows a wide variation between countries in terms of who feels insecure and why, indicating the diverse effects formalisation is likely to have on different groups.


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