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Majority Pakistanis (69%) state that the best way to protect one’s savings is to invest them in real estate.

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According to a survey conducted by Gallup Pakistan, 69% Pakistanis agreed with the following statement: ‘Savings are best protected when invested in property or land’. On the other hand, 31% disagreed with this statement. These results are a part of the nationwide Access to Finance Study conducted by the State Bank of Pakistan in 2015 with the intent of determining the degree of financial inclusiveness of the Pakistani public.

This press release is part of a special series that aim to foster an empirical understanding of financial inclusion in Pakistan and that hope to create a collaborative network of individuals working on the topic. Before starting any conversation on developing a methodology of increasing financial inclusivity in Pakistan, it is vital to be aware of the perceptions that the general public has with regards to financial matters. This particular press release aims to find out whether people in Pakistan feel that investing in real estate is the best way to protect and manage one’s savings. Having an empirical figure for this question is important for formulating policy on increasing financial inclusivity in Pakistan. It is also important for banks to be aware of the mindset of Pakistanis on this matter, since it could play an important role in determining the popularity of banks as institutions of saving money, as opposed to other means such as investing in land.

A nationally representative sample of men and women from across the four provinces was asked, “Please tell me if you rather agree or rather disagree with these statements? [Savings are best protected when invested in property or land]” In response to this question, 69% Pakistanis agreed with this statement whereas 31% respondents disagreed. The empirical results show that for an outright majority of Pakistanis, investing in property or land is seen as the best way of protecting one’s savings. This has important implications for financial stakeholders in Pakistan since the measures undertaken to enhance financial inclusivity in the Country need to be tailored accordingly.

A gender breakdown of this result also reveals a picture with not a significant gap between the two genders. 70% males felt that the best way to protect one’s savings was to invest them in property or land while the same response was given by 67% of the females. Meanwhile, 30% males disagreed with this statement while the same response was given by 33% of the females.

A rural/urban breakdown reveals that 71% of the respondents in urban areas and 68% in rural areas agreed that the best way to protect one’s savings was to invest them in real estate. This negligible difference between the proportion of urban and rural respondents agreeing with this statement serves to highlight that people in Pakistan, irrespective of socio-economic differences between rural and urban respondents, still don’t see banks as an effective source of managing and/or protecting one’s savings. Furthermore, in light of the recent boom in Pakistan’s real estate market, people have increasingly started to feel that the best way to make a profit out of one’s savings is to buy land and property in a developing housing society or commercial center and then sell it once the property prices pick up. Thus, the exponential growth in Pakistan’s property industry has shifted people’s focus from seeing banks and other formal financial institutions as effective sources of saving money. Finally, 29% in the urban areas disagreed with this statement while the same answer was given by 32% of the respondents in rural areas.

According to the provincial breakdown, 69% of the respondents in Punjab, 72% in Sindh, 68% in KPK and 49% in Baluchistan agreed that the best way to protect one’s savings is to invest them in real estate. On the other hand, 30% of the respondents in Punjab, 28% in Sindh, 32% in KPK and 51% in Baluchistan disagreed with the statement. The fact that Baluchistan has the highest proportion of respondents that disagree with this statement needs some explanation. Comparing Baluchistan’s socio-economic and, more importantly, security situation with the other provinces can be a starting point for examining why people in Baluchistan feel that savings may not be protected so well if they are invested in real estate. The penetration of Pakistan’s real estate market in Baluchistan can also be looked at in order to reach some understanding regarding these empirical statistics.

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