In most African countries, land access continues to be governed by customary tenure systems. These have long been argued to provide high levels of tenure security and flexibility at a cost well below that of ‘modern’ arrangements. Yet, studies also describe the challenges they face with population pressure: Unclear rules on how to deal with outsiders, migrants or foreign investors, can trigger disputes, undermining investment and productivity. Land tenure reform aimed at improving tenure security has long been advocated to encourage investment and effectiveness of land use as well as operation of land markets. Moreover, land titling aimed at increasing women’s access to land has been found to not only enhance agricultural productivity but also improve their bargaining power within the household.
The first goal of this paper is to identify the different determinants of perceived tenure insecurity and to compare their quantitative impacts on agricultural performance. The second goal is to explore gender differences in the determinants of perceived tenure insecurity and the latter’s impact on production. This paper will also assess whether investment disincentives due to the inheritance regime are economically meaningful. In Malawi, the gender issue has often been discussed in the context of inheritance regimes. The postulate is that discrepancy between men as prime decision-maker and women’s land ownership in matrilineal/matrilocal systems is a key source of tenure insecurity with negative impacts on investment.
This work is part of “The Role of Agriculture and Rural Development in Ending Poverty and Boosting Shared Prosperity” project.
Deininger, Klaus W.; Xia, Fang; Holden, Stein Terje. 2017. Gender-differentiated impacts of tenure in security in Malawi’s customary tenure systems (English). Land governance policy brief; no. 1. Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.
Gender-differentiated impacts of tenure insecurity in Malawi’s customary tenure systems
Published 1 September 2017