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Tenure insecurity and investment in soil conservation. Evidence from Malawi

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  • Stefania Lovo

Abstract

Tenure insecurity can have important consequences for the conservation of natural resources. Land titling is often considered a solution to the problem of weak investment incentives under tenure insecurity. Using a large plot-level dataset from Malawi, this paper shows that land titling alone might not induce greater investment in soil conservation under the existing customary inheritance systems and that a reform of the rental market is in order. The paper focuses on two main sources of tenure insecurity: informal short-term tenancy contracts and customary gender-biased inheritance practices. Both sources of insecurity matter for soil conservation investments and are likely to be unaffected by the introduction of land titling alone. Further evidence suggests that soil erosion can have adverse distributional effects and that tenure insecurity accounts for one-third of the long-term loss in land productivity.

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Paper provided by Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in its series Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers with number 114.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp114

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  1. Stein T. Holden & Klaus Deininger & Hosaena Ghebru, 2007. "Impacts of Low-Cost Land Certification on Investment and Productivity," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(2), pages 359-373.
  2. Hanan G. Jacoby & Ghazala Mansuri, 2008. "Land Tenancy and Non-Contractible Investment in Rural Pakistan," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 763-788.
  3. Gebremedhin, Berhanu & Swinton, Scott M., 2003. "Investment in soil conservation in northern Ethiopia: the role of land tenure security and public programs," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 29(1), pages 69-84, July.
  4. Timothy J. Besley & Konrad B. Burchardi & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2012. "Incentives and the De Soto Effect," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 237-282.
  5. Bezabih, Mintewab & Holden, Stein, 2010. "The Role of Land Certification in Reducing Gender Gaps in Productivity in Rural Ethiopia," Discussion Papers dp-10-23-efd, Resources For the Future.
  6. Deininger, Klaus & Jin, Songqing & Adenew, Berhanu & Gebre-Selassie, Samuel & Nega, Berhanu, 2003. "Tenure security and land-related investment - evidence from Ethiopia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2991, The World Bank.
  7. Ephraim Chirwa, 2005. "Adoption of fertiliser and hybrid seeds by smallholder maize farmers in Southern Malawi," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 1-12.
  8. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-37, October.
  9. Place, Frank & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2001. "Population, Tenure, and Natural Resource Management: The Case of Customary Land Area in Malawi," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 13-32, January.
  10. Brasselle, Anne-Sophie & Gaspart, Frederic & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2002. "Land tenure security and investment incentives: puzzling evidence from Burkina Faso," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 373-418, April.
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