Advancing integrated employment-linked shelter delivery

Supporting job-intensive housing development
Providing an enabling environment for poor and low-income people to make a living, shelter themselves and have some level of services for which they can pay.
Low-income housing and associated employment opportunities with and around it tend to form an environment in which the poorest members of society can eke out some sort of living, and in which low-paid workers can supplement their formal incomes. Between one-tenth and one quarter of all dwellings in the cities of developing countries have a home-based enterprise on the premises. Additions to the housing stock also provide jobs in such industries as textiles, furniture and household fixtures. Thus the link between housing and employment in the informal sector is both close and symbiotic, in that economic activities enable housing improvements and the latter improve employment prospects and productivity.

The informal sector deserves more support not only because it is capable of being economically productive, but also because any assistance given to SSEs is likely to benefit poorer households more than similar support to the formal sector. Small-scale informal construction enterprises use more unskilled labour, fewer imports and less hard currency. As for the formal sector, it has been shown in Kenya that the labour-to-materials ratio is 45:55 for low-income housing, whereas it is 30:70 for high income housing. The lower unit cost of informal housing generate more employment per unit of expenditure than does formal sector housing, while producing six times as many dwelling units in the process.

It is estimated on evidence from research in Colombia, that the income multiplier for low-cost housing construction is about 2 ([ie] $2 of income created for every $1 invested in housing construction); and that about seven additional jobs are created for every $US 10,000 spent on housing construction. In the Republic of Korea, the income multiplier was also 2, but 14 jobs were created for that amount of money. Similar results can be obtained in India, Mexico and Pakistan. It should also be noted that increases in housing and infrastructural investment are likely to trigger an increase in investment in building-material manufacture, transport and marketing. Semi-skilled and unskilled labourers, benefiting from the first and second round increases in individual incomes would have little propensity for buying imported goods where local manufactures were available.

The backward linkages from the habitat sector (those which take place in other sectors before completion of the housing or infrastructure project) are also acknowledged to be higher than those in most other sector. The beneficial effect of multipliers seem to be inversely related to the cost of housing. Hence, governments which wish to increase employment among the poorer sections of the population through shelter investments, should invest in housing activities directed at the poor. Self-help housing and upgrading schemes are especially effective in using under-utilized labour.

1. Shelter improvements raise productivity at work, reduce absenteeism from work, raise the level of health of workers and families, increase the productivity of education, and reduce the incidence of social deviation.

2. Employment-rich human settlements development should be an integrated part of structural adjustment policies, and are a basic input for the production of any other goods, tradable or not.

Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal