Thursday, June 30, 2011
PUBLICATIONS: Land Inequality and Decentralized Governance in LDCs (UNU-WIDER)
The UNU-WIDER project on Land Inequality and Decentralized Governance in LDCs has produced several working papers that may be of interest to CAPRi members.
- Trees, Tenure and Conflict: Rubber in Colonial Benin. Tree crops have changed land tenure in Africa. Farmers have acquired more permanent, alienable rights, but have also faced disputes with competing claimants and the state. I show that the introduction of Para rubber had similar effects in the Benin region of colonial Nigeria. Farmers initially obtained land by traditional methods. Mature farms were assets that could be sold, let out, and used to raise credit. Disputes over rubber involved smallholders, communities of rival users, would-be migrant farmers, commercial plantations, and the colonial state, which feared rubber would make land unavailable for food crops.
- Transformation of the Family under Rising Land Pressure: A Theoretical Essay. If we understand well the individualization of land tenure rules under conditions of growing land scarcity and increased market integration, much less is known about the mode of evolution of the farm-cum-family units possessing the land. Inspired by first hand evidence from West Africa, this paper argues that these units undergo the same process of individualization governed by the same forces as property rights in land. It provides a simple theoretical account of the coexistence of different forms of family when farms are heterogenous in land endowments and technology is stagnant. The paper also offers analytical insights into the sequence following which such forms succeed each other.
- Evolution of Land Distribution in West Bengal 1967-2004. This paper uses data from a household survey to estimate changes in land distribution in rural West Bengal between 1967-2004 and decompose these into contributions of different factors. There was a substantial drop in land per household and land per capita, while within-village inequality rose. The latter was associated mainly with rising landlessness induced by high rates of household division for marginal and small landowning households. Conversely, division of large landowning households reduced inequality. We find a significant indirect effect of the tenancy reform (Operation Barga) on inequality, as it reduced division rates of small landowning households while raising those of large landowning households. The land titling (patta) program also reduced inequality by reducing landlessness. Land markets were highly active, and were mildly equalizing. The inequality reducing effects of land reforms and land markets were dwarfed by the rising inequality and landlessness induced by division of small landowning households and immigration.
More information about the project on Land Inequality and Decentralized Governance in LDCs here.