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After 200 years, why is Indonesia’s cadastral system still incomplete?


  • Pierre van der Eng


This paper discusses Indonesia’s experience with establishing a uniform cadastral system in rural areas since the idea was first mooted in the early 19th century. Until 1961, a formal cadastre that identified, measured, registered and certified land titles existed only in urban areas. A cadastre for rural land did not start until after the 1960 Agrarian Law. Until then, the village-based land tax registers acted as a substitute cadastral register in areas subject to land tax. In the 19th century, this system was imperfect and calls to resolve issues of inequity in tax assessment led to improvements, especially since 1907. A proper rural cadastre was not introduced during the colonial era, because of the high cost involved, and because its certification of individual land rights would have clashed with customary regulations, including notions of communal land tenure. The introduction of a rural cadastre after 1960 was piecemeal, and the use of property tax registration as a substitute cadastre has continued. By 1992 cadastre registrations covered just 20% of land plots, mostly in urban areas. A World Bank-sponsored project helped to increased coverage since 1994 to 32% in 2013. Greater coverage was delayed by the rapid increase in newly opened up agricultural areas, the cost of land title certificates, the difficulties of reconciling individual land ownership with customary regulations, and also the continued use of property tax registers as a substitute cadastre.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre van der Eng, 2016. "After 200 years, why is Indonesia’s cadastral system still incomplete?," CEH Discussion Papers 046, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:hpaper:046

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard M. Bird & Enid Slack (ed.), 2004. "International Handbook of Land and Property Taxation," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3304.
    2. Derek G. Stacey, 2011. "Tenure Insecurity, Adverse Selection, And Liquidity In Rural Land Markets," Working Paper 1269, Economics Department, Queen's University.
    3. Paul Castañeda Dower & Elizabeth Potamites, 2014. "Signalling Creditworthiness: Land Titles, Banking Practices, and Formal Credit In Indonesia," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(3), pages 435-459, December.
    4. Michael Grimm & Stephan Klasen, 2015. "Migration Pressure, Tenure Security, and Agricultural Intensification: Evidence from Indonesia," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 91(3), pages 411-434.
    5. Pierre van der Eng, 2006. "Surplus mobilisation in farm agriculture: A comparison of Java and Japan, 1870-1940," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(1), pages 35-58.
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    Cited by:

    1. Trias Aditya & Eva Maria-Unger & Christelle vd Berg & Rohan Bennett & Paul Saers & Han Lukman Syahid & Doni Erwan & Tjeerd Wits & Nurrohmat Widjajanti & Purnama Budi Santosa & Dedi Atunggal & Imam Han, 2020. "Participatory Land Administration in Indonesia: Quality and Usability Assessment," Land, MDPI, vol. 9(3), pages 1-27, March.
    2. Aditya, Trias & Santosa, Purnama Budi & Yulaikhah, Yulaikhah & Widjajanti, Nurrohmat & Atunggal, Dedi & Sulistyawati, Miranty, 2021. "Title Validation and collaborative mapping to accelerate quality assurance of land registration," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 109(C).

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    More about this item


    land tax; land tenure; land rights; land registration; cadastre; Indonesia;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N55 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Asia including Middle East
    • 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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