Improving the effectiveness of formal housing delivery in Tanzania

Promoting evidence-based practices to enable solutions scaling by business

The operation of urban land markets in developing countries is critical to building sustainable cities. Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing rapid urbanisation, pressuring cities with limited institutional capacity. Challenges include inadequate provision of housing, a proliferation of slums and rising inequality. Many African countries suffer from weak institutions and governance as a legacy of their colonial history. This research aims to study whether urban planning regulation – often a colonial remnant – can worsen housing outcomes, reduce social inclusivity and increase inequality in Tanzanian cities.

Minimum plot-size restrictions are common in many African countries, but their effects are understudied. These restrictions may create inefficiencies as large plots are expensive and may remain unbuilt. This may exacerbate inequalities as large plots are unaffordable to the poor. The authors a) study how planned plot sizes affect the demand for plots in the Tanzanian government’s formal ‘20,000 Plots’ project; and b) contrast the private sector’s approach to providing formal plots to that of the government and study the implications.

The fast-paced growth of cities in sub-Saharan Africa represents an opportunity for their hundreds of millions of citizens. Understanding which policies promote efficient real estate development by business is key to ensuring that these cities reach their full potential.

Tanner Regan is a Research Fellow in Economics at London Business School

Potential impact

The authors identify a big challenge to development: Many cities in Sub-Saharan Africa face inadequate provision of housing, proliferation of slums and rising inequality. This impacts the lives of millions of people who are unable to fulfil their potential and their aspirations because they lack access to basic health, education and skills.

This research aims to promote evidence-based practices and enable the scaling of solutions by the private sector. Findings from this research could identify effective business solutions, impact policymakers, and ultimately lead to large-scale and enduring change.

Research co-authors

  • Vernon Henderson, Professor of Economic Geography, Department of Geography and Environment, LSE
  • Martina Manara, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE
  • Guy Michaels, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, LSE

Tanner Regan is a Research Fellow in Economics at London Business School. His research focuses on the economics of housing, land tenure, urban planning, and property tax in developing country cities. He uses tools from applied micro and experimental economics, and a combination of satellite imagery, primary surveys and administrative data.

Tanner has a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and holds an MA and BSc from the University of Toronto. He is affiliated with the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE and the Wheeler Institute for Business and Development at LBS.

The Wheeler Institute has awarded funding to Tanner Regan’s research for its business contribution to development in the developing world. Eligible applicants applied for research funding up to £20,000.

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