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Legal empowerment of the poor through property rights reform: tensions and tradeoffs of land registration and titling in sub-Saharan Africa

Boone, Catherine (2018) Legal empowerment of the poor through property rights reform: tensions and tradeoffs of land registration and titling in sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of International Development. ISSN 0954-1748 (In Press)

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00220388.2018.1451633

Abstract

Land registration and titling in Africa has been seen as a means of legal empowerment of the poor that can protect smallholders' and pastoralists' rights of access to land and other land-based resources. Land registration is also part of ethnojustice agendas in parts of Africa and beyond. Yet legal empowerment via registration and titling is also advocated by those who push for the market-enhancing and aggregate growth-promoting commodification of property rights, whereby market forces will transfer land out of the hands of smallholders and and into the hands of "those who can make most efficient or productive use of it." This paper contrasts these different visions of legal empowerment, showing that each one, rather than offering a straight and clear path to pro-poor outcomes, entails powerful tensions and tradeoffs. Registration and titling often have powerful redistributive implications. This helps to explain why debates over land law reform in general, and over registration and titling in particular, have been divisive in some African countries. The analysis highlights some of the broader political, institutional, and economic forces that shape the design and outcomes of land law reforms that may be undertaken (in part) to promote legal empowerment of the poor.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/fjds20/current
Additional Information: © 2018 UNU-WIDER
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > International Development
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2018 15:32
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2018 15:37
Funders: International Inequalities Institute, Suntory and Toyota International Centers for Economics and Related Disciplines
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/87485

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