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Property rights in a very poor country: tenure insecurity and investment in Ethiopia

  • Daniel Ayalew Ali
  • Stefan Dercon
  • Madhur Gautam

This paper provides evidence from one of the poorest countries of the world that the property rights matter for efficiency, investment, and growth. With all land state-owned, the threat of land redistribution never appears far off the agenda. Land rental and leasing have been made legal, but transfer rights remain restricted and the perception of continuing tenure insecurity remains quite strong. Using a unique panel data set, this study investigates whether transfer rights and tenure insecurity affect household investment decisions, focusing on trees and shrubs. The panel data estimates suggest that limited perceived transfer rights, and the threat of expropriation, negatively affect long-term investment in Ethiopian agriculture, contributing to the low returns from land and perpetuating low growth and poverty.

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Article provided by International Association of Agricultural Economists in its journal Agricultural Economics.

Volume (Year): 42 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 75-86

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Handle: RePEc:bla:agecon:v:42:y:2011:i:1:p:75-86
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  1. Gavian, Sarah & Ehui, Simeon, 1999. "Measuring the production efficiency of alternative land tenure contracts in a mixed crop-livestock system in Ethiopia," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 37-49, January.
  2. Migot-Adholla, Shem, et al, 1991. "Indigenous Land Rights Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Constraint on Productivity?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(1), pages 155-75, January.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Shiferaw, Bekele & Holden, Stein, 1999. "Soil Erosion and Smallholders' Conservation Decisions in the Highlands of Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 739-752, April.
  7. Jean O. Lanjouw & Philip I. Levy, 2002. "Untitled: A Study of Formal and Informal Property Rights in Urban Ecuador," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 986-1019, October.
  8. Hanan G. Jacoby & Guo Li & Scott Rozelle, 2002. "Hazards of Expropriation: Tenure Insecurity and Investment in Rural China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1420-1447, December.
  9. Gavian, Sarah & Ehui, Simeon, 1999. "Measuring the production efficiency of alternative land tenure contracts in a mixed crop-livestock system in Ethiopia," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 20(1), January.
  10. Feder, Gershon & Feeny, David, 1991. "Land Tenure and Property Rights: Theory and Implications for Development Policy," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(1), pages 135-53, January.
  11. Stein Holden & Hailu Yohannes, 2002. "Land Redistribution, Tenure Insecurity, and Intensity of Production: A Study of Farm Households in Southern Ethiopia," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 78(4), pages 573-590.
  12. Pinckney, Thomas C & Kimuyu, Peter K, 1994. "Land Tenure Reform in East Africa: Good, Bad or Unimportant?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 3(1), pages 1-28, April.
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