Housing systems in the Global South

The relevance of the ‘social housing’ approach in meeting housing needs






social housing in the Global South; financialization of housing, financialization of housing, developmentalist states, rudimentary welfare systems, informality


This paper addresses the problem of accessing decent and affordable housing in the Global South, where the housing need is, in general, more problematic than in the Global North. The paper first identifies five distinctive characteristics of housing systems in the Global South as compared to those in the Global North. These include: (a) the diverse facets of global financialization; (b) the role of the developmentalist state; (c) the importance of informality; (d) the decisive role of the family; and (e) the rudimentary welfare systems. Given these features, the paper reflects on the concept and practices of social housing, particularly their appropriateness to deal with the housing problem in the Global South. The paper then addresses the question of whether the social housing approach is relevant for solving the contemporary housing needs in the Global South. It argues that social housing, redefined to better encompass the distinctive characteristics of housing systems in the Global South, is indeed a useful policy approach and can play a decisive role in satisfying unmet housing needs. Such an approach needs to take into account the great role of informality and family support systems and develop appropriate funding instruments and modes of institutionalization protecting housing rights and the quality of life.




Aalbers, M. B. (2015) ‘The Great Moderation, the Great Excess and the global housing crisis’, International Journal of Housing Policy, 15(1), p-p. 43–60.

Aalbers, M. B. (2017) ‘The Variegated Financialization of Housing’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 41 (4), p-p. 542-554.

Aalbers, M. B. and Christophers, B. (2014) ‘The Housing Question under Capitalist Political Economies’, Housing, Theory and Society, 31(4), p-p. 422–428.

Aalbers, M. B. & Christophers, B. (2014) ‘Centring Housing in Political Economy’, 31(4), p-p. 373-394.

Abramo, P. (2016) ‘Social Innovation, Reciprocity and the Monetarization of Territory in Informal Settlements in Latin American Cities’, in MacCallum editor, D. et al. (eds.) Social innovation and territorial development. London : Routledge.

Abramo, P. (2019) ‘The Informal COMP-FUSED City: Market and Urban Structure in Latin American Metropolises’, Bulletin of Latin American research. Oxford, U.K. : Oxford Microform Publications, 38(S2), p-p. 20–40.

Abramo, P. (2020) ‘The COMP-FUSE City: Informal Land Market and Urban Structure in Latin American Metropolises’, in Broeck, P. Van Den et al. (eds.) Communities, Land and Social Innovation: Land Taking and Land Making in an Urbanising World. Edward Elgar Pub, pp. 18–40.

Barlow, J. & Duncan, S. (1994) Success and failure in housing provision: European systems compared. Oxford Pergamon.

Bredenoord, J., Lindert, P. Van & Smets, P. (eds.) (2014) Affordable Housing in the Urban Global South: Seeking sustainable solutionsAbingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Broeck, P. Van den et al. (eds.) (2020) Communities, Land and Social Innovation: Land Taking and Land Making in an Urbanising World. Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.

Buckley, R. M. & Kalarickal, J. (2005) ‘Housing Policy in Developing Countries: Conjectures and Refutations’, The World Bank Research Observer, 20(2), pp. 233–257.

Cameron, S. (2006) ‘Demologos Working Paper Thematic Synthesis; Housing System’, DEMOLOGOS D1.2 Discussion Papers, p-p. 1–32.

Cao, J. A. & Keivani, R. (2014) ‘The Limits and Potentials of the Housing Market Enabling Paradigm: An Evaluation of China’s Housing Policies from 1998 to 2011’, Housing Studies, 29(1), p-p. 44–68.

Charlton, S. & Meth, P. (2017) ‘Lived experiences of state housing in Johannesburg and Durban’, Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa, 93(1), p-p. 91–115.

Dados, N. & Connell, R. (2012) ‘The Global South’, Contexts. SAGE Publications, 11(1), p-p. 12–13.

Davis, J. E., Algoed, L. & Hernández-Torrales, M. E. (eds.) (2020) On Common Ground: International Perspectives on the Community Land Trust. Madison, Wisconsin, USA: TERRA NOSTRA PRESS.

Davis, M. (2007) Planet of slums. London: Verso.

Decker, P. De (2002) ‘On the Genesis of Social Rental Agencies in Belgium’, Urban Studies, 39(2), p-p. 279–326.

Delladetsima, P. M. (2006) ‘The Emerging Property Development Pattern in Greece and its Impact on Spatial Development’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 13(3), p-p. 245–278.

Desai, V. & Loftus, A. (2013) ‘Speculating on slums: Infrastructural fixes in informal housing in the global South’, Antipode, 45(4), p-p. 789–808.

Drakakis-Smith, D. (1981) Housing and the urban development process. London: Croom Helm. Duncan.

Durst, N. J. & Wegmann, J. (2017) ‘Informal Housing in the United States’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 41(2), p-p. 282–297.

Ergüven, E. (2020) ‘The Political Economy of Housing Financialization in Turkey: Links With and Contradictions to the Accumulation Model’, Housing Policy Debate. Routledge, 30(4), p-p. 559–584.

Fauveaud, G. (2020) ‘The New Frontiers of Housing Financialization in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: The Condominium Boom and the Foreignization of Housing Markets in the Global South’, Housing Policy Debate. Routledge, 30(4), p-p. 661–679.

Forrest, R. & Lee, J. (eds.) (2003) Housing and Social Change: East-West Perspective. London and New York: Routledge.

Goodfellow, T. (2013) ‘Planning and development regulation amid rapid urban growth: explaining divergent trajectories in Africa’, Geoforum, 48, p-p. 83–93.

Goodfellow, T. (2014) ‘Rwanda’s political settlement and the urban transition: expropriation, construction and taxation in Kigali’, Journal of Eastern African Studies. Taylor & Francis, 8(2), p-p. 311–329.

Goodfellow, T. (2017) ‘Urban Fortunes and Skeleton Cityscapes: Real Estate and Late Urbanization in Kigali and Addis Ababa’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 41(5), p-p. 786–803.

Goodfellow, T. (2018) ‘Seeing Political Settlements through the City: A Framework for Comparative Analysis of Urban Transformation’, Development and Change, 49(1), p-p. 199–222.

Groenewald, L. et al. (2013) ‘Breaking down the binary: Meanings of informal settlement in southern African cities’, in Bekker, S. B. & Fourchard, L. (eds.) Governing cities in Africa : politics and policies. Cape Town, South Africa : HSRC Press, 2013.

Harloe, M. (1994) ‘Social housing—past, present and future’, Housing Studies, 9(3), p-p. 407–416.

Harloe, M. (1995) The People’s Home? Social Rented Housing in Europe and America. Oxford: Blackwell.

Harvey, D. (2006) ‘Neo-liberalism as creative destruction’, Geografiska annaler., p-p. 145–158.

Harvey, D. (2014) Seventeen Contradictions and The End of Capitalism, London: University Press..

Heeg, S., Ibarra García, M. V. & Salinas Arreortua, L. A. (2020) ‘Financialization of Housing in Mexico: The Case of Cuautitlan Izcalli and Huehuetoca in the Metropolitan Region

of Mexico City’, Housing Policy Debate. Routledge, 30(4), p-p. 512–532.

Holliday, I. (2000) ‘Productivist Social Policy in East Asia’, Political Studies, 48 (4), p-p. 706–723.

Jorge, S. (2020) ‘The Financialization of the Margins of Maputo, Mozambique’, Housing Policy Debate. Routledge, 30(4), p-p. 606–622.

Keivani, R. & Mattingly, M. (2007) ‘The Interface of Globalization and Peripheral Land in the Cities of the South: Implications for Urban Governance and Local Economic Development’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 31(2), p-p. 459–474.

Keivani, R., Mattingly, M. & Majedi, H. (2008) ‘Public Management of Urban Land, Enabling Markets and Low-income Housing Provision: The Overlooked Experience of Iran’, Urban Studies, 45(9), p-p. 1825–1853.

Keivani, R. & Werna, E. (2001) ‘Modes of housing provision in developing countries’, Progress in Planning, 55(2), p-p. 65–118.

Kemeny, J. (1981) The Myth of Home Ownership: Public Versus Private Choices in Housing. London: Routledge.

Kesteloot, C. (1998) ‘The geography of deprivation in Brussels and local development strategies’, in Musterd, S. & Ostendorf, W. (eds.) Urban Segregation and the Welfare State, Inequality and exclusion in western cities. London and New York: Routledge, p-p. 126–147.

Khan, M. (2004) ‘State Failure in Developing Countries and Institutional Reform Strategies’, in Tungodden, B., Stern, N., & Kolstad, I. (eds.) Toward Pro-Poor Policies. Aid, Institutions, and Globalization. Oxford University Press and World Bank, p-p. 165–195.

Khatam, A. (2004) Tarh-e-Jame’ Maskan (Housing Master Plan). Ministery of Housing and Urban Development, Tehran.

Leftwich, A. (2007) ‘Journal of Development Bringing politics back in: Towards a model of the developmental state’, Journal of Development Studies, 31(3), p-p. 400–427. Lemanski, C. (2009) ‘Augmented informality: South Africa’s backyard dwellings as a by-product of formal housing policies’, Habitat International. 33(4), p-p. 472–484. Leontidou, L. (2014) ‘The crisis and its discourses: Quasi-Orientalist attacks on Mediterranean urban spontaneity, informality and joie de vivre’, City. 18(4–5), p-p. 551–562.

Levy-Vroelant, C. (2009) ‘A Review of “The Future of Social Housing”’, European Journal of Housing Policy, 9(4), p-p. 477–479.

Lund, B. (2017) Understanding Housing Policy. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Maclennan, D. & More, A. (1997) ‘The future of social housing: Key economic questions’, Housing Studies, 12(4), p-p. 531–547.

Madanipour, A. (1998) Tehran: the making of a metropolis. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. Madanipour, A. (2006) ‘Urban planning and development in Tehran’, Cities, 23(6), p-p. 433–438.

Malpass, P. (2008a) ‘Histories of social housing: a comparative approach’, in Scanlon, K. &

Whitehead, C. (eds.) Social Housing in Europe II: A review of policies. London: London school of economics and political science, p-p. 15–30.

Malpass, P. (2008b) ‘Housing and the New Welfare State: Wobbly Pillar or Cornerstone?’, Housing Studies, 23(1), p-p. 1–19.

Midheme, E. & Moulaert, F. (2013) ‘Pushing back the frontiers of property: Community land trusts and low-income housing in urban Kenya’, Land Use Policy. , p-p. 73–84.

Migozzi, J. (2020) ‘Selecting Spaces, Classifying People: The Financialization of Housing in the South African City’, Housing Policy Debate. 30(4), p-p. 640–660.

Miraftab, F. (2009) ‘Insurgent Planning: Situating Radical Planning in the Global South’, Planning Theory, 8(1), p-p. 32–50.

Moulaert, F. et al. (Eds.) (2014) The International Handbook on Social Innovation: Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research. Cheltenham: UK Edward Elgar.

Moulaert, F. , Rodriguez, A. & Swyngedouw, E. (Eds.) (2004) The globalized city : economic restructuring and social polarization in European cities. Oxford: Oxford Oxford university.

Moulaert, F., Jessop, B. & Mehmood, A. (2016) ‘Agency, structure, institutions, discourse (ASID) in urban and regional development’, International Journal of Urban Sciences, 20(2), p-p. 167–187.

Moulaert, F., Morlicchio, E. & Cavola, L. (2007) ‘Social exclusion and urban policy in European cities: combining’Northern’and’Southern’European perspectives’, in Geyer, H. S. (ed.) International handbook of urban policy: contentious global issues. Cheltenham: Cheltenham Elgar, p-p. 139–158.

Nasr, J. & Volait, M. (eds) (2003) Urbanism : imported or exported? Chichester: Wiley-Academy.

Oxley, M. (2000) The future of social housing : learning from Europe., Institute for Public

Policy Research. London. Institute for Public Policy Research, Forum on the Future of Social Housing, 2000.

Payne, G. & Majale, M. (2004) ‘The urban housing manual’, Making Regulatory Frameworks Work for the Poor. London: Earthscan.

Proxenos, S. (2002) ‘Homeownership rates: A global perspective’, Housing Finance International. London: International Union for Housing Finance, 17(2), p-p. 3–7. Pugh, C. (1997) ‘Poverty and Progress? Reflections on Housing and Urban Policies in Developing Countries, 1976–96’, Urban Studies, 34(10), p-p. 1547–1595. Regan, S. (1999) ‘A future for social housing’, New Economy, 6, p-p. 215–217. Reinprecht, C., Levy-Vroelant, C. & Wassenberg, F. (2008) ‘Learning from histories: changes and path dependency in the social housing sector in Austria, France and the Netherlands (1889 - 2008)’, in Scanlon, K. & Whitehead, C. (Eds.) Social Housing in Europe II: A review of policies. London: London school of economics and political science, p-p. 31–46.

Renaud, B. (1999) ‘The Financing of Social Housing in Integrating Financial Markets: A View from Developing Countries’, Urban Studies, 36(4), p-p. 755–773.

Reyes, A. (2020) ‘Mexico’s Housing Paradox: Tensions Between Financialization and Access’, Housing Policy Debate. Routledge, 30(4), p-p. 486–511.

Robinson, J. (2006) Ordinary cities : between modernity and development. London: Routledge.

Robinson, R. (1979) Housing Economics and Public Policy. London: Macmillan Basingstoke. Rolnik, R. (2013) ‘Late Neoliberalism: The Financialization of Homeownership and Housing Rights’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37(3), p-p. 1058–1066.

Ronald, R. (2007) ‘Comparing Homeowner Societies: Can we Construct an East-West Model?’, Housing Studies, 22(4), p-p. 473–493.

Ronald, R. & Kyung, S. (2013) ‘Housing System Transformations in Japan and South Korea: Divergent Responses to Neo-liberal Forces’, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 43(3), p-p. 1–23.

Ronald, R. & Lee, H. (2012) ‘Housing policy socialization and de-commodification in South Korea’, Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 27(2), p-p. 111–131.

Roy, A. (2017) ‘Urban informality: Toward an epistemology of planning’, Contemporary Movements in Planning Theory: Critical Essays in Planning Theory.71(2), p-p. 423–434.

Scanlon, K. et al. (2008) Social Housing in Europe II: A review of policies, LSE London. Edited by K. Scanlon & C. Whitehead. London: London school of economics and political science.

Schindler, S. (2017) ‘Towards a paradigm of Southern urbanism’, City. 21(1), p-p. 47–64. Tutin, C. (2008) ‘Social housing and private markets: from public economics to local housing markets’, in Scanlon, K. & Whitehead, C. (Eds.) Social Housing in Europe II: A review of policies. london: London school of economics and political science.

Un-Habitat (2009) Financing affordable Social Housing in Europe, Europe. Available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/23186292/Financing-Affordable-Housing-in-Europe.

Un-Habitat (2011) Affordable land and housing in Asia, UNON, Publishing Services Section. Nairobi: UNON, Publishing Services Section.

United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (2003) The challenge of slums (Global report on human settlements 2003). London: Earthscan.

Vaziri Zadeh, A. (2016) ‘The Evaluation of State Involvement in Large-scale Property-Led

Regeneration Projects in Iran’, in Arefian, F. F. and Moeini, S. H. I. (Eds.) Urban Change in Iran. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, p-p. 215–229.

Vaziri Zadeh, A. (2020) ‘Evaluation of the Prospective Role of Affordable Housing in Regeneration of Historical Districts of Iranian Cities to Alleviate Socio-spatial Segregation’, in Arefian, F. F. and Moeini, S. H. I. (Eds.) Urban Heritage Along the Silk Roads: A Contemporary Reading of Urban Transformation of Historic Cities in the Middle East and Beyond. Cham: Springer International Publishing, p-p. 193–205.

Whitehead, C., Scanlon, K. & Hills, J. (Eds.) (2007) Social Housing in Europe. London: London school of economics and political science