Population Growth and Customary Law on Land: The Case of Cordillera Villages in the Philippines
This paper examines how a traditional village deals with the consequences of population growth. The increase in population demands more intensive use of the land which requires the transformation of commonly-owned land into privately-owned land. Customary law contains clear prescriptions about the circumstances under which a couple can privatize land. We estimate this land accumulation rule using date from two villages in the Cordillera Region of the Philippines. In order to study the evolution of the distribution of land, we model the inheritance practices of the community which constitutes another aspect of customary law. Finally, we use the model to show that despite the flexibility of the customary law on land, the present rapid growth of the population given the limited availability of land leads to its breakdown. This could be avoided only if seven out of ten children are able to make a living from occupations other than farming.
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