Social capital of the urban poor in Bangladesh : implications for affordable housing
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This study aims to investigate the nature and extent of ‘social capital’ of the urban poor in Bangladesh. Major theories of social capital have been reviewed for a general understanding of the subject, while a review of other relevant literature has also helped develop measures of aspects of social capital: social networks, trust and cooperation. Broader literature on poverty and urban housing in Bangladesh are also reviewed. These measures have been used in a structured questionnaire survey. Approximately1800 households were interviewed using this questionnaire in a two-stage sample design process, in which 18 primary sampling units (PSU) were selected from three categories of cities (one is the capital city, one from the metropolitan cities and one from the secondary cities). Then 100 households were selected from each of the 18 PSUs, including 11 ‘poor neighbourhoods’ (informal or ‘slum’ areas)’ and 7 ‘comparator neighbourhoods’. The socio-economic and demographic information from the survey responses have been analysed to understand the profile of the study population. The data on social capital have been analysed in two stages: (a) using descriptive statistics, and (b) using the Probit/Logit and structural analytic approaches. In the former case, the analysis looks particularly at the socio-economic vulnerabilities of the urban poor affecting social capital, as well as the nature and extent of different kinds of social networks, trust and cooperation. The Probit/Logit and structural analysis explores the direct and indirect relationships between various socioeconomic characteristics of urban poor households and individual behavioural outcomes (trust and cooperation). The analysis suggests that the nature and extent of social capital of the poor are somewhat distinctive; the poor groups are more interdependent on their neighbours, so that their social capital primarily relies on their ties with them. These findings suggest that the higher level of trust and cooperation among neighbours may address some of the critical issues in affordable housing and slum redevelopment policies in Bangladesh. This implication is discussed through a suggested quasi-market approach that may help achieve financial feasibility of affordable housing supply. The approach may contribute to the current ‘market enabling’ housing policies of the country as well as providing pointers to the international development agencies for investment in housing for the urban poor in Bangladesh or elsewhere.