Submissions Accepted for Presentation at the World Bank Land Conference 2024

The conference agenda provides an overview and details of sessions. In order to view sessions on a specific day or for a certain room, please select an appropriate date or room link. You may also select a session to explore available abstracts and download papers and presentations.

Session Overview
01-08: Broader impacts of land titling
Wednesday, 15/May/2024:
4:00pm - 6:00pm

Session Chair: Ming Zhang, World Bank, United States of America
Location: MC 13-121

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How property shapes distributional preferences

Marco Fabbri, Maria Bigoni

University of Bologna, Italy

We investigate the impact of a significant property rights reform on distributional preferences in rural Beninese villages. This reform replaced the informal use-rights over land, which were traditionally prevalent, with a system resembling private ownership. Our study employs a combination of a randomized controlled trial implementation of the reform across villages and lab-in-the-field experiments to elicit the distributional choices of villagers. We examine participants' preferences in situations where inequality arises from luck as well as situations where inequality is based on merit considerations. The findings reveal that the reform, which aligns allocation rules with impersonal market-like institutions, enhances participants' acceptance of luck-based inequality. However, we find no discernible effect of the reform on participants' tolerance for merit-based inequality. These results contribute to our understanding of the impact of institutional changes on distributional preferences and have implications for the design of economic systems.


Property rights without transfer rights: a study of Indian land allotment

Dustin Frye1, Christian Dippel2,4, Bryan Leonard3

1University of Wisconsin - Madison; 2Ivey Business School - Western University; 3Arizona State University; 4National Bureau of Economic Research

Governments often institute transferability restrictions over property rights to protect owners and communities, but these restrictions impose costs: lowering property values, limiting investment, and increasing transaction costs. We study the long-run impacts of transferability restrictions using a natural experiment affecting millions of acres of Native American reservation land, by comparing non-transferable allotted-trust parcels with transferable fee-simple parcels. We use satellite imagery to study differences in land use across tenure types by leveraging fine-grained fixed effects to compare immediate neighbors. We find that fee-simple plots are 13% more likely to be developed and have 35% more land in cultivation.


Market design for Land Trade: Evidence from Uganda and Kenya

Gharad Bryan

London School of Economics, United Kingdom

In low-income countries, agriculture is hindered by inefficient land allocation and farm fragmentation, raising costs and preventing adoption of technologies that benefit from scale. Research indicates that land markets are underdeveloped, with risks and coordination issues that impede effective trading. Experiments in Uganda and Kenya demonstrate that market design can significantly enhance efficiency by thickening markets, finding chains, and enforcing conditional contracts, but right-in-theory designs may be unfamiliar and hard for farmers to understand. In Uganda, we find large efficiency gains from a simple market design improvement, a centralization intervention that brings farmers together to trade at a set time. In Kenya, a computerized system aggregation intervention, which allows traders to specify a sequence of conditional trades as a single transaction yielded good results. These findings suggest that strategic market design can alleviate trading frictions, boost productivity for smallholder farmers, and complement other initiatives like land titling.


Credit impacts of titling rural habitation land: Evidence from India’s SVAMITVA scheme

Klaus Deininger1, Hari K Nagarajan2, Abhiman Das2, Daniel Ali1, Parth Hirpara2

1World Bank, United States of America; 2Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

To reduce conflict, empower women, and foster investment and credit access, India’s SVAMITVA program has, since 2020, created the legal basis for issuing property cards (PCs) to habitation land and, in a systematic, low-cost, village-wide process, mapped or issued PCs to more than 80 and 10 million properties, respectively. We use quarterly branch-level data for 2016-2023 to assess the impact of PC issuance on volume of bank credit and deposits in Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Uttar Pradesh (UP), two states accounting for 73% of PCs issued so far. PCs increased credit access in MP where PCs are integrated with digital land records and banks can register charges online, but not in UP where records cannot be used or maintained digitally. Parallel trend for pre-intervention outcomes cannot be rejected and placebo tests (using drone survey) show no effect. Record use and maintenance arrangements seem a key determinant of land titling’s impact.


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