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Transformation of the Family under Rising Land Pressure: A Theoretical Essay


  • Catherine Guirkinger
  • Jean-Philippe Platteau


If we understand well the individualization of land tenure rules under conditions of growing land scarcity and increased market integration, much less is known about the mode of evolution of the farm-cum-family units possessing the land. Inspired by first-hand evidence from West Africa, this paper argues that these units undergo the same process of individualization governed by the same forces as property rights in land. It provides a simple theoretical account of the coexistence of different forms of family when farms are heterogenous in land endowments and technology is stagnant. The paper also offers analytical insights into the sequence following which such forms succeed each other.

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine Guirkinger & Jean-Philippe Platteau, 2011. "Transformation of the Family under Rising Land Pressure: A Theoretical Essay," WIDER Working Paper Series 030, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2011-30

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Meyer, Carrie A., 1989. "Agrarian reform in the Dominican Republic: An associative solution to the collective/individual dilemma," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(8), pages 1255-1267, August.
    2. Feder, Gershon & Noronha, Raymond, 1987. "Land Rights Systems and Agricultural Development in Sub-Saharan Afric a," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 2(2), pages 143-169, July.
    3. Jean-Marie Baland & Jean-Philippe Platteau, 1998. "Division of the Commons: A Partial Assessment of the New Institutional Economics of Land Rights," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(3), pages 644-650.
    4. Basu, Kaushik, 1986. "The market for land : An analysis of interim transactions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 163-177.
    5. Esther Duflo & Christopher Udry, 2003. "Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in Côte D'ivoire: Social Norms, Separate Accounts and Consumption Choices," Working Papers 857, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    6. Feder, Gershon & Feeny, David, 1991. "Land Tenure and Property Rights: Theory and Implications for Development Policy," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(1), pages 135-153, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brousseau, Eric & Garrouste, Pierre & Raynaud, Emmanuel, 2011. "Institutional changes: Alternative theories and consequences for institutional design," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(1-2), pages 3-19, June.
    2. Matthieu Delpierre & Catherine Guirkinger & Jean-Philippe Platteau, 2012. "Risk as Impediment to Privatization? The Role of Collective Fields in Extended Agricultural Households," Working Papers 1211, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    3. Goetghebuer, Tatiana, 2011. "Productive inefficiency in patriarchal family farms: evidence from Mali," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 34, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    4. Bardhan, Pranab & Luca, Michael & Mookherjee, Dilip & Pino, Francisco, 2014. "Evolution of land distribution in West Bengal 1967–2004: Role of land reform and demographic changes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 171-190.
    5. Rama Lionel Ngenzebuke, 2017. "The Returns of "I Do": Multifaceted Female Decision-making and Agricultural Yields in Tanzania," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2017-05, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item


    patriarchal family; land division; Africa;


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