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Small Price Incentives in Land Titling Encourage the Inclusion of Women

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During the 1990s and 2000s, nearly two dozen African countries proposed de jure land reforms extending access to formal, freehold land tenure to millions of poor households, but many of these reforms stalled. Titled land remains largely the preserve of wealthy households and, within households, mainly the preserve of men.

A randomized field experiment of price incentives is used to address economic and gender inequality in land tenure formalization. Beginning in 2010, the experiment tested whether price instruments alone can generate greater inclusion by offering formal titles to residents of a low-income, unplanned settlement in Dar es Salaam at a range of subsidized prices, as well as additional price incentives to include women as owners or co-owners of household land. Estimated price elasticities of demand (the responsiveness of a change in quantity demanded to a change in price) confirms that prices—rather than other implementation failures or features of the titling regime—prevent broader inclusion in the land registry, and that some degree of pro-poor price discrimination is justified even from a narrow budgetary perspective. In terms of gender inequality, even small price incentives for female co-titling achieve almost complete gender parity in land ownership with no reduction in demand. Read the paper by Daniel Ayalew Ali, Matthew Collin, Klaus Deininger, Stefan Dercon, Justin Sandefur, and Andrew Zeitlin to know more.