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Can there be growth with equity : an initial assessment of land reform in South Africa

Author

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  • Deininger, Klaus
  • May, Julian

Abstract

The authors use evidence from a survey of about 1200 beneficiaries of South African land reform to assess the performance of the initial phase of the land reform program. They find that the program has not lived up to the quantitative goals set, but did successfully target the poor. It has led to a significant number of economically successful projects that already generate sustainable revenues. These projects have involved significantly larger shares of poor people than less viable projects, suggesting that increased access to productive assets could be an important path to poverty reduction. Given the need to develop a diverse and less subsidy-dependent strategy for poverty reduction, suitably adapted land reform could play an important part in restructuring South Africa's rural sector. Much of this potential has yet to be realized. The author's analysis points toward clear lessons about program design: 1) Increase beneficiary awareness and participation. Shift from a centralized, bureaucratic structure designed for land distribution toward seeing program components as part of an integrated vision of rural development. This would strengthen links to other parts of land reform (including tenure reform), make better use of local synergies (including infrastructure such as housing), and encourage rather than stifle local initiative decentralized implementation mechanisms. 2) Integrate land redistribution into a land policy framework that strengthens existing property rights, especially tenure security for residents of communal areas. 3) Ensure transparency, accountability, and the participation of the private sector. These are essential for dispelling fears that land reform is just another means of political favoritism rather than an instrument to transform the rural sector, as is indeed supported by international evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Deininger, Klaus & May, Julian, 2000. "Can there be growth with equity : an initial assessment of land reform in South Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2451, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2451
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Murray Leibbrandt & Ingrid Woolard, 1999. "A comparison of poverty in South Africa's nine provinces," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1), pages 37-54.
    5. Pranab Bardhan and Maitreesh Ghatak., 1999. "Inequality, Market Imperfections, and Collective Action Problems," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C99-108, University of California at Berkeley.
    6. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Duflo, Esther, 2003. "Inequality and Growth: What Can the Data Say?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 267-299, September.
    7. Fafchamps, Marcel & Pender, John, 1997. "Precautionary Saving, Credit Constraints, and Irreversible Investment: Theory and Evidence from Semiarid India," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(2), pages 180-194, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christine Valente, 2006. "Early Land Redistribution and the Food Security of South African Households: Micro-econometric evidence from national data," Working Papers 2006009, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2006.
    2. Mendola, Mariapia & Simtowe, Franklin, 2015. "The Welfare Impact of Land Redistribution: Evidence from a Quasi-Experimental Initiative in Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 53-69.
    3. Valente, Christine, 2009. "The Food (In)Security Impact of Land Redistribution in South Africa: Microeconometric Evidence from National Data," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 1540-1553, September.
    4. Robert Eastwood & Johann Kirsten & Michael Lipton, 2006. "Premature deagriculturalisation? Land inequality and rural dependency in Limpopo province, South Africa," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(8), pages 1325-1349.
    5. Place, Frank, 2009. "Land Tenure and Agricultural Productivity in Africa: A Comparative Analysis of the Economics Literature and Recent Policy Strategies and Reforms," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1326-1336, August.

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