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Rural Demography, Public Services and Land Rights in Africa: A Village-Level Analysis in Burkina Faso


  • Margaret S. McMillan
  • William A. Masters
  • Harounan Kazianga


This paper uses historical census data from Burkina Faso to characterize local demographic pressures associated with internal migration into river valleys after Onchocerciasis eradication, combined with a new survey of village elders to document change over time and differences across villages in local public goods provision, market institutions and land use rights. We hypothesize that higher local population densities are associated with more public goods and a transition from open-access to regulated land use. Controlling for province or village fixed effects, we find that villages' variance in population associated with proximity to rivers is closely correlated with higher levels of infrastructure, markets and individual land rights, as opposed to familial or communal rights. Responding to population growth with both improved public services and private property rights is consistent with both scale effects in public good provision, and changes in the scarcity of land.

Suggested Citation

  • Margaret S. McMillan & William A. Masters & Harounan Kazianga, 2011. "Rural Demography, Public Services and Land Rights in Africa: A Village-Level Analysis in Burkina Faso," NBER Working Papers 17718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17718
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Grimm, Michael & Klasen, Stephan, 2007. "Geography vs. Institutions at the Village Level," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Göttingen 2007 9, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
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    4. Kazianga, Harounan & Masters, William A., 2002. "Investing in soils: field bunds and microcatchments in Burkina Faso," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(03), pages 571-591, July.
    5. Margaret S. McMillan & William A. Masters, 2003. "An African Growth Trap: Production Technology and the Time-Consistency of Agricultural Taxation, R&D and Investment," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(2), pages 179-191, May.
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    9. Harounan Kazianga & William A. Masters, 2006. "Property rights, production technology, and deforestation: cocoa in Cameroon," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 35(1), pages 19-26, July.
    10. Olmstead, Alan L & Rhode, Paul, 1993. "Induced Innovation in American Agriculture: A Reconsideration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 100-118, February.
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    12. David Cutler & Winnie Fung & Michael Kremer & Monica Singhal & Tom Vogl, 2010. "Early-Life Malaria Exposure and Adult Outcomes: Evidence from Malaria Eradication in India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 72-94, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kazianga, Harounan & Masters, William A. & McMillan, Margaret S., 2014. "Disease control, demographic change and institutional development in Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 313-326.
    2. Estelle Koussoubé, 2014. "What Drives Land Sales and Rentals in Rural Africa: Evidence from Western Burkina Faso," Working Papers DT/2014/10, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F20 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O20 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - General

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