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Within urban policy there is considerable debate on slums and informal settlements, i.e. whether these need to be formalized or left informal. The debate is driven by demands for efficient markets on the one hand versus considerations of social welfare on the other. Yet, a core problem is the lack of policy tools to assess under which conditions an institutional intervention could be credible. It is mooted that perceptual differences between what governments profess institutions do, what they actually do, and what people believe they ought to do, can be a reliable proxy for credibility. This premise has spurred the Formal, Actual and Targeted (FAT) Institutional Framework, which since its development has been field-tested for different sectors and countries. To illustrate the potential of this policy tool for extra-legal settlements, it has been applied to the case of informal housing in China (also known as Small Property Rights Housing). It is found that SPRH enjoys significant credibility as can be ascertained through: investment; access to credit; perceived ownership and tenure security. This study may have critical ramifications for the advancement of empirically grounded approaches to the role of informality in urban (and regional) governance.
Biography of speaker
Prof. Peter Ho
Professor, School of Public Affairs, Zhejiang University
Prof. Peter Ho is high-level National Expert of China, Distinguished Professor at Zhejiang University, and Research Professor at the London School of Economics (LSE). He is interested in the revision of theories of development and planning in relation to China in which context he posited the “Credibility Thesis” and the concept of “embedded activism.” Prof. Ho is listed in the World Top 2% of Most-Cited Scientists (Stanford University Career and 2022 Annual Index). The European Research Council (ERC) described him as: “a world renowned scholar with an impressive set of publications and awards to his name” and a “leading thinker with continuous effort on theoretical and methodological levels to go beyond the state of the art” (ERC Panel, 282690). Ho is widely published in high-impact journals of development, planning and geography, and published books with, amongst others, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Wiley-Blackwell. Ho was awarded the Kapp Prize for Evolutionary and Political Economy, China Rural Development Award, Title of Leading Expert of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, and the ERC Consolidator Grant. He is Chair of ICARDC (International Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development), serves on the editorial boards of Land Use Policy, Conservation and Society, Legal Pluralism and Critical Social Analysis, China Rural Economics, Land, and the Journal of Peasant Studies, and is the Series Editor of global development at Cambridge University Press.