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Plural Inheritance Laws, Practices and Emergent Types of Property—Implications for Updating the Land Register


  • Zaid Abubakari

    (Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, 7514 AE Enschede, The Netherlands)

  • Christine Richter

    (Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, 7514 AE Enschede, The Netherlands)

  • Jaap Zevenbergen

    (Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, 7514 AE Enschede, The Netherlands)


Sustaining up-to-date land registers in the global south is an increasing concern for the protection of tenure, development of land markets and long-term sustainable planning practices and policy. It requires both the prompt reporting of land transfers and also an alignment between prevailing land rights and official recording systems. The literature on land registration highlights some effects of inheritance practices on the land register and land development. Taking these studies a step further, our research investigates how such effects evolve from the rules that guide inheritance practices using a qualitative research approach. We found that normative practices of inheritance mostly lead to communal property through numerous processes which have implications on the timing and likelihood of possible registration. Also, we found that the significance of land and buildings in the social context transcends the physical property per se and includes dimensions of spirituality and social identity. Our findings explain the misalignment between the official and social logics of property and suggest likelihood of non-reporting. We conclude that flexibility is required in recording communal rights in rural areas and that the transition to individual property is more likely in peri-urban and urban areas where the social logics of property have broken.

Suggested Citation

  • Zaid Abubakari & Christine Richter & Jaap Zevenbergen, 2019. "Plural Inheritance Laws, Practices and Emergent Types of Property—Implications for Updating the Land Register," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(21), pages 1-17, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:21:p:6087-:d:282696

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Carmen Diana Deere & Cheryl Doss, 2006. "The Gender Asset Gap: What Do We Know And Why Does It Matter?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1-2), pages 1-50.
    3. Edward Kutsoati & Randall Morck, 2014. "Family Ties, Inheritance Rights, and Successful Poverty Alleviation: Evidence from Ghana," NBER Chapters, in: African Successes, Volume II: Human Capital, pages 215-252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Dimo Todorovski & Jossam Potel, 2019. "Exploring the Nexus between Displacement and Land Administration: The Case of Rwanda," Land, MDPI, vol. 8(4), pages 1-15, March.
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    1. Shewakena Aytenfisu Abab & Feyera Senbeta Wakjira & Tamirat Tefera Negash, 2022. "Factors Influencing the Formalization of Rural Land Transactions in Ethiopia: A Theory of Planned Behavior Approach," Land, MDPI, vol. 11(5), pages 1-26, April.
    2. Zaid Abubakari & Christine Richter & Jaap Zevenbergen, 2020. "Evaluating Some Major Assumptions in Land Registration: Insights from Ghana’s Context of Land Tenure and Registration," Land, MDPI, vol. 9(9), pages 1-14, August.
    3. Fuseini Waah Salifu & Zaid Abubakari & Christine Richter, 2019. "Innovating Along the Continuum of Land Rights Recognition: Meridia’s “Documentation Packages” for Ghana," Land, MDPI, vol. 8(12), pages 1-18, December.
    4. Sally Adofowaa Mireku & Zaid Abubakari & Javier Martinez, 2021. "Dimensions of Urban Blight in Emerging Southern Cities: A Case Study of Accra-Ghana," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(15), pages 1-24, July.
    5. Małgorzata Buśko & Jacek Zyga & Ľubica Hudecová & Peter Kyseľ & Monika Balawejder & Michal Apollo, 2022. "Active Collection of Data in the Real Estate Cadastre in Systems with a Different Pedigree and a Different Way of Building Development: Learning from Poland and Slovakia," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(22), pages 1-17, November.

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