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Land Distribution in Northern Ethiopia from 1998 to 2016: Gender-disaggregated, Spatial and Intertemporal Variation


  • Holden, Stein T.

    () (Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences)

  • Tilahun, Mesfin

    () (Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences)


This study utilizes land registry data from the First and Second Stage Land Registration Reforms that took place in 1998 and 2016 in sampled districts and communities in Tigray region of Ethiopia. Tigray was the first region to implement low-cost land registration and certification in Ethiopia and providing household level land certificates in the names of household heads. Second Stage Land Registration and Certification (SSLRC) is scaled up since 2015 and provides households with parcel-based certificates with maps. The SSLR&C lists all holders of parcels by name and gender. We utilize the SSLR data for detailed genderdisaggregated analysis after aggregating parcel data by gender to household level and categorizing households in male- and female-headed households. Data from 11 municipalities (tabias) in four districts (woredas) are utilized. This covers 78700 parcels in the SSLR database allocated to 31500 households. Various statistical measures, including graphical tools, are used to assess the gender-disaggregated, spatial and intertemporal variation in land distribution. The comparison of First Stage Land Registry (FSLR) data with SSLR data facilitates critical assessment of the quality of the FSLR data as well as an assessment of changes in farm size distribution over the 18 years period. We find from the total sample of SSLR data, which represents an area of 30000 ha, that the female ownership share for this land is as high as 48.8% and indicates a considerably lower skewness in the distribution between men and women than we had hypothesized. The Gini-coefficient for land distribution among women is lower than that among men (0.45 versus 0.57). The share of male-headed households with no female landowners varied from 25 to 60% across communities. Male-headed households have on average 34% more land than female-headed households but this difference was reduced to less than 10% in terms of land per capita (after correcting for differences in family size between male-headed and female-headed households). There is a clear trend towards smaller farm sizes from the FSLR in 1998 to the SSLR in 2016. The share of farms below one ha varies from 0.50 to 0.90 across communities in the SSLR data.

Suggested Citation

  • Holden, Stein T. & Tilahun, Mesfin, 2017. "Land Distribution in Northern Ethiopia from 1998 to 2016: Gender-disaggregated, Spatial and Intertemporal Variation," CLTS Working Papers 3/17, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nlsclt:2017_003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Deininger, Klaus & Ali, Daniel Ayalew & Holden, Stein & Zevenbergen, Jaap, 2008. "Rural Land Certification in Ethiopia: Process, Initial Impact, and Implications for Other African Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1786-1812, October.
    2. Carletto, Calogero & Savastano, Sara & Zezza, Alberto, 2013. "Fact or artifact: The impact of measurement errors on the farm size–productivity relationship," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 254-261.
    3. Ghebru, Hosaena & Holden, Stein, 2013. "Links between Tenure Security and Food Security: Evidence from Ethiopia," CLTS Working Papers 2/13, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies.
    4. 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.
    5. Cheryl Doss & Chiara Kovarik & Amber Peterman & Agnes Quisumbing & Mara Bold, 2015. "Gender inequalities in ownership and control of land in Africa: myth and reality," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 46(3), pages 403-434, May.
    6. Cheryl R Doss & Carmen Diana Deere & Abena D Oduro & Hema Swaminathan, 2014. "The Gender Asset and Wealth Gaps," Development, Palgrave Macmillan;Society for International Deveopment, vol. 57(3-4), pages 400-409, December.
    7. Klaus Deininger & Daniel Ayalew Ali & Tekie Alemu, 2011. "Impacts of Land Certification on Tenure Security, Investment, and Land Market Participation: Evidence from Ethiopia," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 87(2), pages 312-334.
    8. Therese Dokken, 2015. "Allocation of Land Tenure Rights in Tigray: How Large Is the Gender Bias?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 91(1), pages 106-125.
    9. Stein Holden & Klaus Deininger & Hosaena Ghebru, 2011. "Tenure Insecurity, Gender, Low-cost Land Certification and Land Rental Market Participation in Ethiopia," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(1), pages 31-47.
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    More about this item


    land registry data; farm size distribution; gender-disaggregated land ownership; cumulative distribution functions; land fragmentation;

    JEL classification:

    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment

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