IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

What drives the global"land rush"?

  • Arezki, Rabah
  • Deininger, Klaus
  • Selod, Harris

The 2007-2008 upsurge in agricultural commodity prices gave rise to widespread concern about investors causing a"global land rush". Large land deals can provide opportunities for better access to capital, transfer of technology, and advances in productivity and employment generation. But they carry risks of dispossession and loss of livelihoods, corruption, deterioration in local food security, environmental damage, and long-term social polarization that led some countries to recently pass legislation restricting foreign land acquisition. To stimulate evidence-based debate, this paper explores determinants of foreign land acquisition for large-scale agriculture. It quantifies demand for land deals, showing it focused on Africa where land expansion is about 20 times the level it was in the past. The analysis uses data on bilateral investment relationships, together with newly constructed indicators of agro-ecological suitability in non-protected and forested areas with low population density as well as land rights security. It estimates gravity models that can help identify determinants of foreign land acquisition dedicated to large-scale agriculture. The results confirm the central role of agro-ecological potential as a pull factor. In contrast to the literature on foreign investment in general, the quality of the business climate is insignificant, whereas weak land governance and tenure security for current users make countries more attractive for investors. Implications for policy are discussed.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5864.

in new window

Date of creation: 01 Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5864
Contact details of provider: Postal:
1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433

Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Sambit Bhattacharyya & Roland Hodler, 2008. "Natural Resources, Democracy and Corruption," OxCarre Working Papers 020, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  2. Laura Alfaro & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, 2004. "Why doesn't capital flow from rich to poor countries? An empirical investigation," 2004 Meeting Papers 53, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Reinhart, Carmen & Calvo, Guillermo & Leiderman, Leonardo, 1996. "Inflows of capital to developing countries in the 1990s," MPRA Paper 13707, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Dietz Vollrath, 2008. "The Dual Economy in Long-run Development," Working Papers 2008-03, Department of Economics, University of Houston.
  5. Deininger, Klaus & Feder, Gershon, 1998. "Land institutions and land markets," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2014, The World Bank.
  6. Angrist, Joshua & Kugler, Adriana D., 2005. "Rural Windfall or a New Resource Curse? Coca, Income and Civil Conflict in Colombia," CEPR Discussion Papers 5324, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Raghuram G. Rajan & Rodney Ramcharan, 2009. "Land and Credit: A Study of the Political Economy of Banking in the United States in the Early 20th Century," NBER Working Papers 15083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Shleifer, Andrei & Wolfenzon, Daniel, 2002. "Investor protection and equity markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 3-27, October.
  9. Deininger, Klaus & Nizalov, Denys & Singh, Sudhir K, 2013. "Are mega-farms the future of global agriculture ? exploring the farm size-productivity relationship," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6544, The World Bank.
  10. Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Maylis Coupet & Thierry Mayer, 2005. "Institutional Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment," Working Papers 2005-05, CEPII research center.
  11. Klaus Deininger & Harris Selod & Anthony Burns, 2012. "The Land Governance Assessment Framework : Identifying and Monitoring Good Practice in the Land Sector," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2376.
  12. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Scholarly Articles 3445092, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Manuel Oechslin, 2010. "Government Revenues and Economic Growth in Weakly Institutionalised States," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(545), pages 631-650, 06.
  14. Deininger, Klaus & Byerlee, Derek, 2011. "The rise of large farms in land abundant countries : do they have a future ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5588, The World Bank.
  15. Benito Arruñada, 2010. "Pitfalls to Avoid when Measuring Institutions: Is 'Doing Business' Damaging Business?," Working Papers 451, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  16. Schnitzer, Monika, 1999. "Expropriation and control rights: A dynamic model of foreign direct investment," Munich Reprints in Economics 19890, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  17. Eduardo Borensztein & Jose De Gregorio & Jong-Wha Lee, 1995. "How Does Foreign Direct Investment Affect Economic Growth?," NBER Working Papers 5057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Papaioannou, Elias, 2008. "What Drives International Financial Flows? Politics, Institutions and Other Determinants," CEPR Discussion Papers 7010, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Binswanger, Hans P. & Deininger, Klaus & Feder, Gershon, 1995. "Power, distortions, revolt and reform in agricultural land relations," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 42, pages 2659-2772 Elsevier.
  20. Santos Silva, J.M.C & Tenreyro, Silvana, 2005. "The Log of Gravity," CEPR Discussion Papers 5311, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Loayza, Norman V. & Raddatz, Claudio, 2010. "The composition of growth matters for poverty alleviation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 137-151, September.
  22. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
  23. Gary D. Libecap & Dean Lueck, 2011. "The Demarcation of Land and the Role of Coordinating Property Institutions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 426 - 467.
  24. Ligon, Ethan A. & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2011. "Estimating the effects of aggregate agricultural growth on the distribution of expenditures," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt4435r7bm, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  25. Albuquerque, Rui, 2003. "The composition of international capital flows: risk sharing through foreign direct investment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 353-383, December.
  26. James R. Markusen & Anthony J. Venables, 1995. "Multinational Firms and The New Trade Theory," NBER Working Papers 5036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Klaus Deininger & Derek Byerlee & Jonathan Lindsay & Andrew Norton & Harris Selod & Mercedes Stickler, 2011. "Rising Global Interest in Farmland : Can it Yield Sustainable and Equitable Benefits?," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2263.
  28. James R. Markusen & Anthony J. Venables, 1996. "The Theory of Endowment, Intra-Industry, and Multinational Trade," NBER Working Papers 5529, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "Direct versus Indirect Colonial Rule in India: Long-Term Consequences," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 693-713, November.
  30. Christine Valente, 2009. "Land Reform in Developing Countries: Property Rights and Property Wrongs," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(10), pages 1772-1773.
  31. Shang-Jin Wei, 2000. "Local Corruption and Global Capital Flows," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(2), pages 303-354.
  32. Martijn Burger & Frank van Oort & Gert-Jan Linders, 2009. "On the Specification of the Gravity Model of Trade: Zeros, Excess Zeros and Zero-inflated Estimation," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 167-190.
  33. Ricardo Hausmann & Federico Sturzenegger, 2007. "The missing dark matter in the wealth of nations and its implications for global imbalances," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 22, pages 469-518, 07.
  34. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 92-96, May.
  35. Fan, Joseph P.H. & Morck, Randall & Xu, Lixin Colin & Yeung, Bernard, 2009. "Institutions and Foreign Direct Investment: China versus the Rest of the World," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 852-865, April.
  36. Rajeev J Sawant, 2010. "The economics of large-scale infrastructure FDI: The case of project finance," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 41(6), pages 1036-1055, August.
  37. Mohsin Habib & Leon Zurawicki, 2002. "Corruption and Foreign Direct Investment," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 33(2), pages 291-307, June.
  38. Vollrath, Dietrich, 2009. "How important are dual economy effects for aggregate productivity?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 325-334, March.
  39. Antonio Cabrales & Esther Hauk, 2011. "The Quality of Political Institutions and the Curse of Natural Resources," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 58-88, March.
  40. Nugent, Jeffrey B. & Robinson, James A., 2010. "Are factor endowments fate?," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(01), pages 45-82, March.
  41. Daniel Kaufmann & Aart Kraay & Massimo Mastruzzi, 2004. "Governance Matters III: Governance Indicators for 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 18(2), pages 253-287.
  42. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2006. "Land and Power: Theory and Evidence from Chile," NBER Working Papers 12517, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5864. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.