Access to Land, Rural Poverty, and Public Action

Land is a fundamental productive asset in agrarian economies. The rules that codify access to land and the way jurisdiction over land is distributed among members of a community have a powerful influence over how efficiently land is used, the incidence of poverty, and the level of inequality in the community. Yet we observe that much of the land in less developed countries is underutilized and/or misused from a sustainability standpoint, that lack of access to land or unfavorable terms of access remain a fundamental cause of poverty, and that unmet demands for land can be a source of political destabilization. At the same time, there presently exist unusual opportunities to reopen the issue of access to land. They include an increasing concern with the efficiency costs of inequality in land distribution, devolution of common property resource management to users, large scale redefinitions of property rights in the context of transition economies in Eastern and central Europe and the end of white rule in South Africa, liberalization of land markets, mounting pressure to deal with environmental issues, the proliferation of civil society organizations voicing the demands of the rural poor, and more democratic and decentralized forms of governance. There are many channels of access to land and each of these affects how land is used. While much attention has traditionally been given to state-led redistributive land reforms, this is only one among a variety of options, and currently not the easiest to manage politically. Other channels include inheritance and inter-vivos transfers, intra-household and intra-community land allocations, community titling of open access resources, the distribution of common property resources and the individualization of rights, decollectivization, land markets and land market-assisted land reforms, and land rental contracts. This book analyzes each of these channels of access to land, and recommends ways of making them more effective for poverty reduction.

Table of contents
  1. 1. Access to Land and Land Policy Reforms
    Alain de Janvry, Jean-Philippe Platteau, Gustavo Gordillo, Elisabeth Sadoulet
  2. 2. Impartible Inheritance Versus Equal Division: A Comparative Perspective Centered on Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa
    Jean-Philippe Platteau, Jean-Marie Baland
  3. 3. Intrahousehold Access to Land and Sources of Inefficiency: Theory and Concepts
    Marcel Fafchamps
  4. 4. Land Rights and Natural Resource Management in the Transition to Individual Ownership: Case Studies from Ghana and Indonesia
    Keijiro Otsuka, Agnes R. Quisumbing
  5. 5. The Puzzle of Counterproductive Property Rights Reforms: A Conceptual Analysis
    Elinor Ostrom
  6. 6. Case Study. Property Rights: Access to Land and Forest Resources in Uganda
    William S. Gombya-Ssembajjwe, A . Y. Banana, Joseph Bahati
  7. 7. Devolution of Control of Common Pool Resources to Local Communities: Experiences in Forestry
    J. E. Michael Arnold
  8. 8. Access to Land via Land Rental Markets
    Elisabeth Sadoulet, Rinku Murgai, Alain de Janvry
  9. 9. Case Study. Regulating the Sharecropping System: Operation Barga
    Uday Shankar Saha, Mandira Saha
  10. 10. Land Market Liberalization and the Agrarian Question in Latin America
    Michael R. Carter, Ramón Salgado
  11. 11. The Changing Role of the State in Latin American Land Reforms
    Alain de Janvry, Elisabeth Sadoulet, Wendy Wolford
  12. 12. Case Study. Grassroots-Initiated Land Reform in Brazil: The Rural Landless Workers' Movement
    Wendy Wolford
  13. 13. Negotiated Land Reform as One Way of Land Access: Experiences from Colombia, Brazil, and South Africa
    Klaus W. Deininger
  14. 14. Transition from Collective Farms to Individual Tenures in Central and Eastern Europe
    Johan F. M. Swinnen
  15. 15. Case Study. The Dramatic Rise of Individual Farming in Albania: Causes and Effects
    Azeta Cungu, Johan F. M. Swinnen
  16. 16. Case Study. Post-Communist Land Reform and Changes in Tenure in the Czech Republic
    Tomáš Doucha, Erik Mathijs, Johan F. M. Swinnen
  17. 17. The Evolution of the World Bank's Land Policy
    Klaus W. Deininger, Hans Binswanger
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'Thorough and closely argued essays ... one suspects that this work will form a key text in advancing the 'post-Washington consensus' in this area.' - Development Policy Review

'Clearly and persuasively brings land issues back into the policy agenda ... rich in evidence and analysis ... refreshingly innovative in terms of methodology ... This book will be of relevance to readers interested in land issues in developing countries and, more broadly, to all those interested in poverty reduction, for which better access to land is an indispensable condition.' - Raul Hopkins, International Fund for Agricultural Development

'For academics and policymakers interested in rural development, this book should be required reading ... Unlike most edited books this one hangs together exceptionally well; thanks in large part to the introductory chapter by the editors, which provides a road map and an analytical umbrella within which the chapters fit ... an extremely helpful resource for anyone serious about land relations and development.' - Journal of Development Economics