Property Rights

Date of publication
janvier 2013
Geographical focus

When women hold land title in rural Vietnam, their households are more prosperous, poverty is less and capital investment levels higher than in households where a man holds sole title, new research has found.

While family economic security improves under private land titling regardless of gender, the benefits are more marked when a woman’s name is on the document than only a man’s, researchers at Rutgers and Brandeis University found.

The findings are among the first to provide strong evidence of the economic benefits of women having documented legal rights to use of land.

The researchers compared household living standards data in Vietnam from 2004 to 2008 with gender on land use documents. They found that household poverty was 6 percent lower, capital expenditure levels 10 percent higher and women’s self employment 6 percent higher when a woman had land-use rights in her own name. Jointly held title also showed improved household economic security over a man holding land title alone.

“The results do provide evidence that when women have their names on the land title, there are beneficial effects for themselves and for their children,” Yana Rodgers, an economist who participated in the research, told a land seminar at the World Bank.

The health of their children also improves, she said. Child illness fell, health insurance coverage rose, school enrolment increased and the amount of household income used for alcohol and tobacco as opposed to food declined when women held the land-use rights, compared with male-only or jointly-held rights, according to the research.

SHIFT IN VIETNAM LAND OWNERSHIP

Gender and land ownership is hotly debated in the development community. According to some estimates, women own less than 15 percent of land worldwide, even though they make up roughly 80 percent of the agricultural workers. But the paucity of data makes it tough to analyse the impact of gender and land ownership on poverty rates.

A large amount of land in developing countries remains undocumented, and when land is titled, the household ownership often is not broken down by gender. Markus Goldstein, a development economist at the World Bank, called Rodgers and her colleagues’ findings “important” in a field where there is little concrete evidence.

But he questioned the mechanisms that might be driving the improvements in household security. For example, there was little to show that land title had strengthened women in Vietnam tapping bank credit for investment purposes.

Vietnam began moving from agricultural cooperatives to private land ownership in the late 1980s, passing a law in 1993 that gave households the power to exchange, lease and mortgage their land-use rights. This spurred one of the largest ever land titling programmes in developing countries, and within seven years, 11 million land-use titles were issued to rural households.

At the same time, women increased their participation in agriculture, which currently supplies jobs for 58 percent of the female labour force in Vietnam, compared with 51 percent of the male work force. These two factors made Vietnam fertile ground to study whether gender in land rights matter for different household outcomes.

Interviews with women in the Mekong Delta who were included in the research confirmed their findings. Women with land were more likely to hold jobs outside the home, and 68 percent said that land rights made them feel more economically secure. Two-thirds also said they felt they had more power over economic decisions such as sale or purchase of agricultural products when their name was on the deed.

The preliminary paper, “Land Reform and Welfare in Vietnam: Why Gender of the Land-Rights Holder Matters”, was researched by Yana Rodgers and Alexis Kennedy at Rutgers University and Nidhiya Menon at Brandeis University.

Memon and Rodgers’ findings on child welfare, conducted with Huong Nguyen, were published in the World Development journal last year.

 

- Source article: Thomas Reuters Foundation

- Author article: Stella Dawson

- Photo source:  © REUTERS/Kham

Date of publication
janvier 2013
Geographical focus

Urban LandMark visited DFID London from 12 to 13 November 2012 to present the organisation' s recent work on and approach to improving access to urban land and property rights.The main objective of the visit was to showcase Urban LandMark's work, impact and lessons learnt over the last seven years to a broader, more global audience, as well as to a larger audience within DFID, Urban LandMark's main funder over the past six years.

Read more at http://www.urbanlandmark.org.za/newsletter/issue/0801/04.php

Date of publication
janvier 2009

This paper studies the evolution of the land tenure institutions of Bulgaria, an Eastern European country in transition from a socialist centrally planned to a capitalist market economy. The focus is on the period 1839–1878 during which the country was still under Ottoman rule and on the period after liberation, 1878–1944. The major factors which determined the shape of these institutions and the mechanisms of transition between land tenure regimes are identified and analyzed by critically evaluating two theories of institutional change — the efficiency theory developed by Demsetz (1967) and the social conflict theory developed by Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson (2005). Consistent with the latter theory, the paper argues that political institutions and the distribution of resources determined the prevailing political balance which in turn determined the structure of land tenure institutions during those two periods. The process of institutional change during 1839–1878 was endogenous to the Ottoman Empire but exogenous to Bulgaria as the institutions of the latter were embedded into those of the former. The shift to the post-liberation land tenure regime (1878–1944) was an endogenous process but the initial source of prevailing political power was an external factor — the Russian occupation forces. The paper suggests that the social conflict theory be expanded to include the embeddedness factor and the role of external factors in the process of institutional change.

Date of publication
janvier 2006
Geographical focus

This paper discusses the internal processes and decisions that characterized the transition from collectively held group ranches to individualized property systems among the Maasai pastoralists of Kajiado district in Kenya. It addresses the question of why group ranch members would demand individualized property systems, but then turn against the outcome. In addressing this puzzle the paper discusses the process of land allocation and distribution during group ranch subdivision. It examines who the main actors were during subdivision, their degree of latitude in crafting and changing rules, and the interactions between Maasai and state institutions. Findings suggest that, because the process by which property rights change is so intertwined with politics, we may need to move beyond economic models of relative price changes and state enforcement in order to better understand such transitions. Models that accommodate competition by
actors and the possibility that state actors may not provide the arbitration or enforcement that is often taken for granted are more useful for analyzing the complexities of shifting property rights. When the possibility for conflict and competition is factored into the property rights equation, the relative gains from privatizing/individualizing may not be as large or as obvious as anticipated.

Date of publication
janvier 2005
Geographical focus

This paper explores the puzzle of why the pastoral Maasai of Kajiado, Kenya, supported the individualization of their collectively held group ranches, an outcome that is inconsistent with theoretical expectation. Findings suggest that individuals and groups will seek to alter property
rights in their anticipation of net gains from a new assignment, even as they seek to eliminate disadvantages that were present in the status quo property rights structure. Heightened perceptions of impending land scarcity, failures of collective decision making, the promise of
new income opportunities and the possibility of accessing capital markets motivated individuals to support group ranch subdivision. More importantly individuals were confronted with a declining security of tenure over their lands. Their supporting a transition to individual rights also represents a rational response anticipated to secure land claims against unauthorized appropriations by both Maasai and non-Maasai elite. Given the differentiated structure of group ranch communities, the costs and benefits of property transformation were unevenly distributed. The political process yielded beneficial outcomes for those with access to decision making, while creating vulnerabilities for those with less access such as women, the youth and poor herders.

Date of publication
janvier 2011
Geographical focus

A series of papers on land use administration, land use change, securing of rights to resources and other in Laikipia, Kenya.

Date of publication
janvier 2011
Geographical focus

This lesson brief presents the laws that give people access and secure rights to land. These laws encourage investment in the land and can establish a foundation on which rural families can grow their incomes and assets. It is part of the Focus on Land in Africa: Land Tenure and Property Rights online educational tool.

Date of publication
janvier 2011
Geographical focus

This lesson brief explores the history of land conflicts in Kenya. It is part of the Focus on Africa: Land Tenure and Property Rights online educational tool. Kenya drew international attention in 2007 when widespread violence broke out following presidential elections, resulting in the death of 1,300 people and the displacement of as many as 600,000 individuals. Much of the violence was linked to long-standing land disputes. Kenya has endured a long history of land conflicts, dating back to its colonial period when first the Germans and then the British promulgated policies and practices that alienated people from their customary land and pitted one ethnic group against another. These policies were extended after independence. Ethnic divisions especially over traditional land were exploited for short-term political ends. Kenya’s new Constitution of 2010, however, provides hope that some historical injustices will be addressed.

Date of publication
janvier 2011
Geographical focus

This lesson brief looks at the government's control of private land use in Kenya. It is part of the Focus on Africa: Land Tenure and Property Rights online educational tool. Like other governments around the world, Kenya’s government has the authority to extinguish or restrict property rights over land and natural resources, including the authority to restrict the use of privately-held land for national and public interest purposes. Private land use restrictions have been used for environmental management and are increasingly being considered for biodiversity conservation purposes. Such authorities must be carefully exercised because they can weaken land tenure, reduce investments in land, lower land values, and limit local livelihoods options. This lesson examines the law and practice of government authorities to restrict the use of private land in Kenya.

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