Thursday, November 10, 2005

Titles=Belonging to Society

“You give people titles and they start to feel they belong to society,” Ernesto Schargrodsky said in his study of societal changes caused by having title to property. The study, as yet unpublished, is featured on the front page of this morning’s Wall Street Journal. Schargrodsky and Sebastian Galiani studied a barrio in Buenos Aires, which was settled by squatters 25 years ago. About half of the residents received title to their property and half did not but are still living in the barrio.

The differences were incredible. Those with titles had significantly lower rates of teenage pregnancy, lower rates of school absenteeism and completed more school than those without. The researchers theorized that a title turns a house into an “insurance and savings tool” that can act as a foundation that supports owners during bad times and into old age.

How does this relate to the agurbs®? As I travel around the USA, I’m seeing recent immigrants having an increasing impact upon small towns and regions. I’m convinced that those towns that can assimilate them the quickest, turning them into property owners, are the ones that are going to be able to create more opportunities for all residents more quickly. Generally, these new immigrants are hard working, law-abiding citizens who have an incredible desire to succeed. After all, we only gain those with enough gumption to get out of their comfort zone and emigrate here. How many of these recent immigrants or their children won’t become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow that will create jobs and wealth in our towns?

Does anyone know of a bank, other financial institution or even a town that has set up a special program to assist these new immigrants in the purchase of a home? If you know of any, please email me at It’s something I would like to study.

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