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Allocating and Enforcing Property Rights in Land: Informal versus Formal Mechanisms in Subsaharan Africa

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  • Jean-Philippe Platteau

Abstract

The standard view of economists is that formalisation of private rights in land is a prerequisite of economic growth, especially so in conditions of acute population pressure and agricultutal commercialisation. That stage has been reached in many regions of the African continent, hence the recommendation that land rights be duly registered by a central authority acting on behalf of the state. An alternative view, more prevalent among social scientists, claims that, far from being bypassed by evolving scarcity circumstances, the informal (customary) land tenure system is capable of adjusting itself to the needs of a modern agriculture while at the same time ensuring a more equitable access to land for those whose livelihood narrowly depends upon it. This paper aims at assessing these two views by carefully looking at the arguments advanced by their respective upholders as well as by taking stock of the most recent empirical evidence available to test their validity. It will be shown that the first view is not as solidly grounded as it may seem at first sight, yet the second view must be duly qualified to allow for serious inter-community failures of the 'indigenous order' solution.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Philippe Platteau, 2000. "Allocating and Enforcing Property Rights in Land: Informal versus Formal Mechanisms in Subsaharan Africa," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 26, pages 55-81.
  • Handle: RePEc:noj:journl:v:26:y:2000:p:55-81
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    Cited by:

    1. Fafchamps, Marcel, 2012. "Reprint of development, agglomeration, and the organization of work," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 765-778.
    2. Katleen Van den Broeck & Carol Newman & Finn Tarp, 2007. "Land Titles and Rice Production in Vietnam," Trinity Economics Papers tep1207, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    3. Olli-Pekka Kuusela & Gregory S. Amacher, 2016. "Changing Political Regimes and Tropical Deforestation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 64(3), pages 445-463, July.
    4. Fafchamps, Marcel, 2012. "Development, agglomeration, and the organization of work," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 459-472.
    5. de Laiglesia, Juan R., 2005. "Investment and credit effects of land titling and registration:," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Kiel 2005 10, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    6. Angelucci, Manuela & De Giorgi, Giacomo & Rasul, Imran, 2017. "consumption and investment in resource pooling family networks," CEPR Discussion Papers 11889, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Ismail OMAR & Djurdjani WARDAYA & priyono Nugroho DJOJOMARTONO, 2009. "The Role Of Land Rights In Urban Heritage Management – The Explanatory Power Of Institutional Economics Analysis In The Reconstruction Of Cultural Heritage Of Kotagede Yogyakarta, Indonesia’S Post Ear," Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management, Research Centre in Public Administration and Public Services, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 4(1S), pages 60-75, April.
    8. Naughton-Treves, Lisa & Wendland, Kelly, 2014. "Land Tenure and Tropical Forest Carbon Management," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 1-6.

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