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The economics of land title reform


  • Miceli, Thomas J.
  • Kieyah, Joseph


This paper develops a model of land title reform which shows that a policy of voluntary adoption of a new system is not likely to be successful, even if the new system Pareto dominates the existing one. The problem is the existence of an externality that prevents individual landowners from fully internalizing the benefits of the new system. Some evidence for the theory is presented based on historic efforts to institute land registration in the United States and England. Implications are also drawn for ongoing attempts by developing countries to establish formal property rights systems for land as part of a policy to spur economic growth.
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  • Miceli, Thomas J. & Kieyah, Joseph, 2003. "The economics of land title reform," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 246-256, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:31:y:2003:i:2:p:246-256

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christopher Woodruff, 2001. "Review of de Soto's The Mystery of Capital," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1215-1223, December.
    2. Dong, Xiao-Yuan, 1996. "Two-tier land tenure system and sustained economic growth in post-1978 rural China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 915-928, May.
    3. Baker, Matthew, et al, 2002. "Optimal Title Search," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 139-158, January.
    4. Miceli, Thomas J & Pancak, Katherine A & Sirmans, C F, 1996. "An Economic Analysis of Lead Paint Laws," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 59-75, January.
    5. Alston, Lee J & Libecap, Gary D & Schneider, Robert, 1996. "The Determinants and Impact of Property Rights: Land Titles on the Brazilian Frontier," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 25-61, April.
    6. 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 903-937, October.
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    JEL classification:

    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • R52 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Land Use and Other Regulations


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