The Effects of Property Rights on Economic, Social and Cultural Capital among Poor Beneficiaries of Low-Cost Housing in Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract / Description: 

The developmental effects of property rights among the poor are not established. Empirical studies in this field can be categorized into those that find a positive and significant relationship between property rights and socio-economic wellbeing and those that find no significant relationship. Primarily, studies of the developmental effects of property rights examine micro effects on factors such as income or financial returns, access to credit and housing improvement. In addition to the micro view, there is a need for an aggregate or composite view of the effects of property rights and whether there is a significant difference in these effects between the poor with formal property rights and those without formal property rights. Informed by Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of capital and social mobility, and taking a quasi-experimental approach, this chapter draws on the case of poor beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of state-subsidised low-cost housing in Cape Town, South Africa to examine whether beneficiaries have been able to increase their volume of economic, social and cultural capital in comparison to non-beneficiaries. Principal components analysis is employed to compute economic, social and cultural capital indices from “capital-based” variables using waves 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Cape Area Panel Survey datasets. The mean economic capital index scores for beneficiaries are found to be significantly higher than those of non-beneficiaries while the social capital for beneficiaries is lower. Formal property rights increase the volume of economic capital for beneficiaries of low-cost housing though the rate of increase is too slow to allow beneficiaries to completely come out of poverty. Therefore low-cost housing should be viewed as a poverty alleviation and not a poverty eradication development intervention

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Thu, 19 May 2011 -
13:00 to 14:00
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