Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



The Assumed Shortage of Housing in Pakistan (Policy)

Author: Durr-e-Nayab

“We are short of 10 million housing units” has been the clarion cry in politics, media and the donor-driven research for the last 10 years. Given an average household size of well over six persons, this means that nearly one-third of the population is without housing. Do we see such a huge number of people living on footpaths, side of roads, under bridges or in any open area? Thankfully, NO! We cannot find any clarity on where this huge figure of 10 million housing shortage came from!

  • Media (print, electronic and social) uses it referring to it as a World Bank estimate, while various World Bank publications quote a report submitted to the State Bank as the source, along with a study done by the International Growth Centre (IGC) 2,3 (a DFID funded global research effort out of the LSE and Oxford).
  • he IGC report cites a SBP report, but interestingly, the said report gives a lower per annum figure than the one quoted by the IGC.
  • A more recent State Bank document cites no source and just uses the number as a given.
  • Some WB documents refer to a House Building Finance Company Limited’s presentation as the source but nowhere does one find the exact method used to reach the oft-repeated number.

The worst part is that the government also uses this estimate without ever questioning its validity. And sadly, we have based policy on this assumption and initiated a large public housing effort at a considerable cost.


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