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Land Reforms and the Tragedy of the Anticommons—A Case Study from Cambodia

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  • Dirk Loehr

    () (Trier University of Applied Sciences, Environmental Campus Birkenfeld, P.O. Box 1380, Birkenfeld D-55761, Germany)

Abstract

Most of the land reforms of recent decades have followed an approach of “formalization and capitalization” of individual land titles (de Soto 2000). However, within the privatization agenda, benefits of unimproved land (such as land rents and value capture) are reaped privately by well-organized actors, whereas the costs of valorization (e.g., infrastructure) or opportunity costs of land use changes are shifted onto poorly organized groups. Consequences of capitalization and formalization include rent seeking and land grabbing. In developing countries, formal law often transpires to work in favor of the winners of the titling process and is opposed by the customary rights of the losers. This causes a lack of general acknowledgement of formalized law (which is made responsible for deprivation of livelihoods of vulnerable groups) and often leads to a clash of formal and customary norms. Countries may fall into a state of de facto anarchy and “ de facto open access”. Encroachment and destruction of natural resources may spread. A reframing of development policy is necessary in order to fight these aberrations. Examples and evidence are provided from Cambodia, which has many features in common with other countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa in this respect.

Suggested Citation

  • Dirk Loehr, 2012. "Land Reforms and the Tragedy of the Anticommons—A Case Study from Cambodia," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(4), pages 1-21, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:773-793:d:17354
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 135-153, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:forpol:v:83:y:2017:i:c:p:70-79 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Oldenburg Christoph & Neef Andreas, 2014. "Reversing Land Grabs or Aggravating Tenure Insecurity? Competing Perspectives on Economic Land Concessions and Land Titling in Cambodia," The Law and Development Review, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-29, October.
    3. Joanne Chong, 2014. "Ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation: progress and challenges," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 391-405, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tragedy of the anticommons; customary rights; property rights; land reform;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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