This Briefing Paper presents the debate on the impact of formalised land
rights on rural household welfare through the vectors of increased
investment, credit and efficiency, highlighting the impact on women’s
economic empowerment. At the request of DfID, the paper also considers
the impact of land grabs/large-scale land acquisition on the security of
land rights and the specific impact of active land markets on allocative
efficiency. Drawing on this debate, it identifies key research questions
and weighs up the evidence to answer these questions, discussing the
nature of the evidence available and highlighting gaps in current
evidence that need to be tackled through further research.
The paper focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa, mainly due to the large volume
of the literature and the focus of the study’s terms of reference. This
also potentially provides opportunities for extrapolating experiences
across different countries, as there are arguably more analogous
conditions across some (although not all) African countries that share
characteristics of a history of low pressure on land, and customary
tenure systems, which cover a large proportion of land and privilege
access on a basis of household need. These conditions differentiate
discussions on property rights in Africa from experiences in Asia and
Latin America where pressure on land has been higher and access to land
more dependent upon hierarchical social relationships.
The review engages with several aspects of the conventional economic
view of the causal links between strengthened property rights and
household economic and welfare outcomes in the rural context.
Henley, G. Property Rights and Development: Property Rights and Rural Household Welfare. Overseas Development Institute (ODI), London, UK (2013) ii + 37 pp.