Submissions Accepted for Presentation at the World Bank Land Conference 2024

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Session Overview
02-01: Gender-differentiated impacts of land tenure security in Africa
Tuesday, 14/May/2024:
8:00am - 10:00am

Session Chair: Michael O'Sullivan, World Bank, United States of America
Location: MC 9-100

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Bargaining power and inheritance norms: evidence from polygamous households in Nigeria.

Alessia Isopi1, Jennifer Golan2

1University of Manchester, United Kingdom; 2University of Bath, United Kingdom

We develop a polygamous household model with child labour improving the value of the future inheritable asset. The model predicts that increasing mothers’ relative bargaining power increases children’s labour supply, especially when cultural norms assign a greater inheritance share to the mother’s child. Using data from Nigeria and the variation in mothers’ bargaining power and inheritance norms, we find that children of the first wife work more than children of other mothers within the polygamous household. This result is more pronounced for boys, landed households and settings where first wives increase their returns to inheritance via their offspring.


Agricultural land and the marital bond: The significance of joint land titles for women in western Uganda

Michelle Poulin1, Rachael Pierotti2

1University of California, Berkeley, USA; 2World Bank, United States of America

Increasing women’s property rights and control over resources is central to the promotion of gender equality in Africa. A recent program in western Uganda offered subsidized formal land titles and encouraged households to include both spouses on the title. This embedded qualitative study investigated participants’ perspectives on the implications of those titles for women’s status. We find that joint titles primarily enhanced women’s sense of land tenure security through an improvement in their feelings of marital security. In this context, even prior to titling, women generally had a good deal of say in the management of marital property. The data demonstrate that by signaling a husband’s commitment to the marriage, joint titling can affect household dynamics not because of women’s greater ability to threaten retreat from the marriage but because, quite the opposite, it instils a sense of security and encourages greater cooperation and investment in the marriage.


What’s hers isn’t mine: Gender-differentiated tenure security, agricultural investments and productivity in sub-Saharan Africa

Martin Mwale1, Jacob Ricker-Gilbert2

1Government of Malawi,; 2Purdue University

The present study estimates how land tenure security, measured through gender-differentiated inheritance patterns, affects maize productivity, the price of agricultural land, soil fertility investments, and annual input use in sub-Saharan Africa. We test the relationship between gender-differentiated inheritance patterns and the outcomes of interest, using nationally representative data from Malawi collected in 2019. Inheritance patterns in the data are either matrilineal where land inheritance and ownership flow through women, or patrilineal where they flow through men. Malawi has a mixture of inheritance patterns across the country. Our results indicate that male plot managers in matrilineal inheritance systems had significantly lower yields than matrilineal female plot managers and both male and female plot managers in patrilineal inheritance systems. Matrilineal male plot managers were significantly less likely to use soil fertility-enhancing practices like soil erosion and water control methods, compared to matrilineal females and patrilineal male plot managers on average.


He says, she says, the GPS says: gender gaps in agricultural survey responses in Ghana

Ariel BenYishay1, Seth Goodman1, Katherine Nolan1, Rachel Sayers1, Kunwar Singh1, Madeleine Walker2, Jessica Wells1

1AidData, William & Mary, United States of America; 2University of California, Davis, United States of America

Recent work shows substantial disagreement between spouses in survey responses about household assets, income, and decision-making. To date, this work has not yet assessed whether this disagreement reflects biased responses, and whether standard survey protocols obtain biased estimates. Many agricultural surveys across the developing world typically interview only one respondent about the characteristics, inputs, and outputs of farm plots, even when multiple household members make decisions about plots. To address this challenge, we individually interview both husbands and wives about all farm plots in 1,243 households in Northern Ghana, and–critically–also collect a third independent observation generated using GPS plot walks and satellite imagery. We find significant disagreement between husbands and wives on even the most basic aspects of household farm plots. We find significant gender-related bias in reports when we match survey data to independent observations of plot size and distance from houses as measured by a GPS receiver.


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