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Nov 25

Putting Land on the Map in the 2030 Agenda



In villages where leaders were elected, the reform of the Rural Contracting Law in 2003 increased the value of land by 30 percent.

Citation: Deininger, K., & Jin, S. (2009). Securing property rights in transition: Lessons from implementation of China's rural land contracting law. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 70(1), 22-38.

The government’s transfer of land tenure to individuals is associated with an increase in forestation (a 7.86 percent increase in the year of reform).

Citation: Xie, L., Berck, P., & Xu, J. (2011). The Effect on Forestation of the Collective Forest Tenure Reform in China. Available at SSRN 1782289.


Couples were 1.5 times more likely to make at least one joint decision when they both own real estate either jointly or individually

Citation: Deere, C. D., & Twyman, J. (2012). Asset Ownership and Egalitarian Decision Making in Dual-headed Households in Ecuador. Review of Radical Political Economics, 44(3), 313-320.


A decrease in the insecurity of forest property rights is associated with a decrease in deforestation (a 10 percent decrease in insecurity is associated with a 7 percent decrease in annual deforestation rates).

Citation: Araujo, C., Bonjean, C. A., Combes, J. L., Combes Motel, P., & Reis, E. J. (2009). Property rights and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Ecological Economics, 68(8), 2461-2468.


Households with more secure land tenure are more likely to adopt soil and water conservation investments like tree planting.

Citation: Kabubo-Mariara, J., Linderhof, V., Kruseman, G., Atieno, R., & Mwabu, G. (2006). Household welfare, investment in soil and water conservation and tenure security: Evidence from Kenya. Poverty Reduction and Environmental Management (PREM) Working Paper, 06-06.


Female-headed households whose land rights were regularized were 19 percentage points more likely to have initiated or maintained soil conservation investments in structures such as bunds, terraces and check dams.

Citation: Ali, D. A., eth, K., and Goldstein, M. (2014). Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics,


Squatter households who acquired titles substantially increased investment in their houses (construction surface increased by 12 percent and housing quality increased by 37 percent) and had an average of 0.69 more years of schooling, were 27 percentage points more likely to finish secondary education and 20 percentage points more likely to continue tertiary or university education in comparison to squatter household who did not acquire titles.

Citation: Galiani, S., & Schargrodsky, E. (2010). Property rights for the poor: effects of land titling. Journal of Public Economics, 94, 700-729


Households with complete transfer rights to property, a measure of tenure security, were 21 percent more likely to have trees.

Citation: Hayes, J., Roth, M., & Zepeda, L. (1997). Tenure security, investment and productivity in Gambian agriculture: A generalized probit analysis. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 369-382.


Households that have fully secure and transferable rights had 5.6 percent higher agricultural productivity and were 60 percent more likely to invest in terracing. Households that perceived they had the right to mortgage or sell their land were more likely to invest in assets and activities, such as trees and terracing, that enhance future productivity.

Citation: Deininger, K., & Jin, S. (2006). Tenure security and land-related investment: Evidence from Ethiopia. European Economic Review, 50(5), 1245-1277.

Increases in the amount of land bequeathed or gifted to a woman reduced household food insecurity by 36 percent.

Citation: Kumar, N., & Quisumbing, A. (2012). Inheritance Practices and Gender Differences in Poverty and Well‐Being in Rural Ethiopia. Development Policy Review, 30(5), 573-595.


The larger the share of household land owned by women, the larger the share of household expenditures spent on food and education.

Citation: Doss, C. (2006). The effects of intrahousehold property ownership on expenditure patterns in Ghana. Journal of African Economies, 15(1), 149-180.

Smallholder farmers with stronger land rights were 39 percent more likely to plant trees.

Citation: Abdulai, A., Owusu, V., & Goetz, R. (2011). Land tenure differences and investment in land improvement measures: Theoretical and empirical analyses.Journal of Development Economics, 96(1), 66-78.


Tenancy reform in rural India increased the growth rate of per capita income by 1.1 percentage points, increased the growth rate of per capita consumption by 0.7 percentage points, and increased the growth rate of assets by 1.4 percentage point.

Citation: Deininger, K., Jin, S., & Nagarajan, H. K. (2009). Land reforms, poverty reduction, and economic growth: evidence from India. Journal of Development Studies, 45(4), 496-521.

After legal reforms granted daughters equal inheritance rights, girls remained in school longer.

Citation: Deininger, K., Goyal, A., & Nagarajan, H. (2013). Women's Inheritance Rights and Intergenerational Transmission of Resources in India. Journal of Human Resources, 48(1), 114-141.

The series of state-level land reforms from 1955 to 1992 reduced the poverty gap by 1 percentage point and increased per capital income by 10 percent. As a whole, the state-level land reforms contributed to the reduction of poverty in India.

Citation: Besley, T., & Burgess, R. (2000). Land reform, poverty reduction, and growth: evidence from India. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(2), 389-430.


Households with a title were 9 percent more likely to be able to acquire formal loans. Using titled land as collateral allowed families to obtain loans that were, on average, 30 percent larger.

Citation: Dower, P., & Potamites, E. (2005, August). Signaling credit-worthiness: land titles, banking practices and access to formal credit in Indonesia. In American Agricultural Economics Association 2005 Annual Meeting, July (pp. 24-27).


Landless households who benefitted from a pilot program offering land and access to financial resources used hybrid crops on 24 percent more of their land and had double the yield.

Citation: Chirwa, E. (2006). Land tenure, farm investments and food production in Malawi. IPPG Discussion Paper Series No. 18, University of Manchester, UK.


Children in households with plots owned solely or jointly by a woman were half as likely to be severely underweight. Women who own household plots solely or jointly were more likely to make more decisions in the household.

Citation: Allendorf, K. (2007). Do Women’s Land Rights Promote Empowerment and Child Health in Nepal?. World Development, 35(11), 1975-1988. Chicago.


Households with land that is titled and registered in their name were 8 to 9 percent more likely to undertake intensive land investments. Titled and registered land in Nicaragua was valued 30 percent higher than untitled or unregistered land.

Citation: Deininger, K., & Chamorro, J. S. (2004). Investment and equity effects of land regularization: the case of Nicaragua. Agricultural Economics, 30(2), 101-116. Chicago.


Titling programs that bestowed formal property rights to urban squatters increased the number of hours adults in the household worked an average of 12 hours a week. These programs also led to a reduced household demand for child labor by almost one-third.

Citation: Field, E. (2007). Entitled to work: Urban property rights and labor supply in Peru. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122(4), 1561-1602.

Women with land titled jointly with their husbands were able to participate in 8 percent more household decisions.

Citation: Wiig, H. (2013). Joint Titling in Rural Peru: Impact on Women’s Participation in Household Decision-Making. World Development, 52, 104-119.


Women who report having strong property and inheritance rights were nearly three times more likely to be employed outside of the home, were more than twice as likely to be self-employed, and earned 3.8 times more income.

In communities in which women’s property and inheritance rights were stronger, women’s individual savings were 35 percent larger.

Citation: Peterman, A. (2011). Women's Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women's Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania. The Journal of Development Studies, 47(1), 1-30.


An increase in the number of titled plots of land between 1960-1996 had a positive effect on long-term financial deepening.

An increase in public expenditure on land registration led to long term economic growth.

Citation: Byamugisha, F. F. (1999). How land registration affects financial development and economic growth in Thailand (Vol. 2241). World Bank, East Asia and Pacific Region, Rural Development and Natural Resources Sector Unit.


Providing a family with full ownership rights over a plot of land increased tree planting by a factor of five, doubled the use of soil conservation techniques, and doubled the use of manure on that land.

Citation: Deininger, K., & Ali, D. A. (2008). Do overlapping land rights reduce agricultural investment? Evidence from Uganda. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 90(4), 869-882.


Households with land documented solely under the name of a woman spent more on food and less on tobacco and alcohol. Children in these households were ten percent less likely to be sick and five percent more likely to have health insurance.

Citation: Menon, N., van der Meulen Rodgers, Y., & Nguyen, H. (2014). Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam. WorldDevelopment, 54, 18-31.

Households in provinces that issued Land Use Certificates (LUC) to at least 75 percent of the households were more likely to invest in long-term improvements to their property.

Citation: Do, Q. T., & Iyer, L. (2008). Land titling and rural transition in Vietnam. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 56(3), 531-579.


In households who lost access to agricultural land in the past 5 years, children aged 3 to 8, were more likely to experience malnutrition.

Citation: Merten, S., & Haller, T. (2008). Property rights, food security and child growth: Dynamics of insecurity in the Kafue Flats of Zambia. Food Policy, 33(5), 434-443.

Kerala State, India

Women who own land were 33 times less likely to experience psychological domestic violence and eight times less likely to experience physical domestic violence.

Citation: Agarwal, B., & Panda, P. (2007). Toward freedom from domestic violence: the neglected obvious. Journal of Human Development, 8(3), 359-388.

Karnataka State, India

Married women who inherited land or a house from their natal family were 7 percent more likely to make employment decisions, 13 percent more likely to make decisions about going to the market and 8 percent more likely to make decisions about accessing health care.

Citation: Swaminathan, H., Lahoti, R., & Suchitra, J. Y. (2012). Women’s Property, Mobility, and Decisionmaking. IFPRI Discussion Papers No. 01188.

Uttar Pradesh State, India

Women who own a house were 28 percent less likely to experience physical domestic violence.

Citation: Bhattacharyya, M., Bedi, A. S., & Chhachhi, A. (2011). Marital violence and women’s employment and property status: Evidence from north Indian villages. World Development, 39(9), 1676-1689.

Chandigarh City, India

Women who live in districts where housing was formalized through joint tiling felt more empowered and more confident that, if their husbands died, they would not lose their home. These women also felt less worried about being abandoned by their husbands.

Citation: Datta, N. (2006). Joint Titling—a Win-Win Policy? Gender and Property Rights in Urban Informal Settlements in Chandigarh, India. Feminist Economics, 12(1-2), 271-298.

There is no silver bullet in our fight against global poverty.

But there are some powerful tools countries around the world have used to help their poorest women and men find a path out of poverty.

One proven tool, secure land rights, serves as a foundation that allows other efforts to address poverty or foster growth to take hold.

Click on the places named above to learn how nutrition, women’s empowerment, health, conservation, resilience, and economic development improve when women and men have secure rights to land.

Visit for more resources.

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