Whose land? The political economy of land titling in transitional economies

TitleWhose land? The political economy of land titling in transitional economies
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsHo P, Spoor M
Secondary TitleLand Use Policy
Key themesFormalisation-titling, Policy-law

During processes of economic reform and transition, decision-makers are facing questions with potential far-reaching consequences, such as what institutions should be established, how to determine the relationship between state and market, and in what time frame and order. Against this background, this special issue has brought together four articles that analyze the type of institutional arrangements that emerge over time in relation to one of the basic means of production: land. The various contributions pay particular attention to an often-contested institutional development, the registration of land holdings. By proceeding with land titling under conditions of low socio-economic development, the state risks creating what is here termed as an "empty institution" rather than a "credible institution." In other words, the new institution remains nothing more than a paper agreement or a hollow shell with little or even a negative effect on the actions of social actors. It is what might be called the "collective trust" in the system. As land becomes increasingly marketized and commodified, the state should ensure that the emerging land market does not result in a rapid concentration of land in the hands of a mighty few. This implies the control of market forces through the restriction or prohibition of land sales or land rental. In this context, effecting institutional change through land titling should be done with the utmost care.


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Journal Article