A Milestone for Prindex

Prindex released a 15 country dataset on perceptions of tenure security

Prindex Team Members
Prindex Team Members

Property rights are a cornerstone of economic development and social justice. A fundamental way of understanding the strength of property rights is through citizens’ perceptions of them. Yet perceptions of tenure security have never been collected at a global scale.

The lack of global and comparative data has prevented us from better understanding the scale of tenure insecurity and knowing how to improve it. It has also prevented the issue of property rights from receiving the visibility and attention it deserves. By measuring global perceptions of land and property rights’ security, Prindex seeks to address this gap.

This past October, the Prindex team, a joint effort by the Global Land Alliance and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), alongside funders Omidyar Network and DFID, launched its first 15 countries worth of data on the sidelines of the Committee for Food Security’s 45th meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. The launch was covered by outlets including Reuters’ Place and the BBC World Service.

Tenure Security by Tenure and Region
Tenure Security by Tenure and Region

The data shed light on a number of dimensions of property rights security and insecurity in the 15 countries surveyed to date. The most fundamental result is that – in line with results from Prindex’s pilot surveys – one in four people interviewed feel insecure about their land and property while two-thirds of people reported feeling secure. Looking at the total population of adults (18 years and over) in those 15 countries, that represents a staggering 41 million people who think that it is likely or very likely that they will lose the right to use their property against their will in the next five years, a potentially catastrophic shock.

Rates of tenure insecurity vary quite widely across the sample of countries, from Rwanda, where only 8% of respondents reported being insecure, to 44% in Burkina Faso. Liberia, Namibia and Cameroon were the next most insecure countries with 43%, 32% and 31% of people interviewed feeling insecure (See Diagram A)

Trends and variations between individual countries notwithstanding, to the extent that we can generalize for the full 15, the analysis revealed that tenure insecurity tends to be higher among:

  • Renters versus owners: in all countries, renters are consistently more likely to perceive themselves as tenure insecure compared to owners, with the difference in insecurity rates ranging from three percentage points in Burkina Faso to 38 percentage points in Zambia.
  • Individuals located in urban areas versus rural areas: in eight of the 15 countries, respondents in urban areas reported tenure insecurity rates that were between two and 10 percentage points higher than in rural areas, not surprising given the higher propensity to rent in urban areas than rural ones. However, in two of the countries – Burkina Faso and Ecuador – this was reversed, with rates of tenure insecurity being 19 percentage points lower in urban areas of Burkina Faso against rural ones, and nearly eight percentage points lower in Ecuador.
  • People without formal documentation of their property rights: in eight of the 15 countries, owners and renters who said they have formal documentation reported feeling more secure than those who said they did not. But this was not the case in the other countries.
  • Women responding to spousal death and divorce scenarios: across the 15 countries, there was not a significant difference between men’s and women’s perceptions of tenure security overall. However, when respondents were asked how worried they were that their spouse would have the right to stay but they would be forced to leave in the event of divorce or spousal death, women were, on average, more than 10 percentage points more likely than men to express worry. Across the countries, the greater worry among women than men ranged from two to 34 percentage points in the event of spousal death, and between three and 46 percentage points in the event of divorce. The gap was greatest in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. In contrast, in Rwanda and Liberia, men were as worried or more worried than women about being forced to leave in the event of spousal death scenario.
  • Younger age groups: younger respondents are, on average, more insecure than older ones, with tenure insecurity being nearly 11 percentage points higher for 18-24 year olds than for those aged 55+ across the 15 countries. This difference is most pronounced in Liberia – at over 18 points – and least pronounced in Rwanda.
  • Individuals in lower income quintiles: in 10 out of 15 countries, the poorest 40% of those interviewed reported higher rates of tenure insecurity than the richest 40%. Only in Zambia did the richest income groups report higher rates of insecurity compared to the poorest ones.
  • Respondents that have the right to use at least one additional property: with the exception of Liberia, Madagascar and Rwanda, tenure insecurity is higher among people with at least one property in addition to their dwelling.
Malcolm Childress
Malcolm Childress

The findings are the start of a new way of looking at the challenges facing the land and property rights community; bringing citizens’ own perceptions into the land and property rights debate and paving the way for actions that are more targeted, effective and measurable, with implications not only for individuals but also for countries’ development prospects. The aim is for Prindex findings to be used as a launchpad for deepening and intensifying processes of policy review and reform around the world.

Looking at country averages, however, is just an entry point to facilitate understanding of the magnitude and basic predictors of tenure security and insecurity. To fully understand the drivers and consequences of tenure security and insecurity in order to support specific policy reforms in countries, we will need to complement these data at country level with additional contextual information and tracking of progress in the land sector over time.

Moving Forward in 2019, it is the aim of Prindex to collect data from over 100 countries in total, including Prindex’s tenure security perceptions module in the Gallup World Poll. This will also enable Prindex to combine the data with an even wider range of data in the World Poll to allow for analysis which variables are most closely associated with perceived tenure security.

Find the full comparative report here

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