February 26, 2008

International Property Rights Index 2008: Langa Case Study

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The 2008 International Property Rights Index (IPRI) is an international comparative study that measures the significance of both physical and intellectual property rights and their protection for economic well-being. In order to incorporate and grasp the important aspects related to property rights protection, the Index focuses on three areas: Legal and Political Environment (LP), Physical Property Rights (PPR), and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The current study analyzes data for 115 countries around the globe, representing ninety-six percent of world GDP. Of great importance, the 2008 gauge incorporates data of PR protection from various sources, often directly obtained from expert surveys within the evaluated countries.

Enterprise Africa! Lead Researcher, Karol Boudreaux, contributes a case study to this report based on her extensive field research in Africa.

In Africa, systematic title registration projects took place in Sudan and Buganda (present-day Uganda) before the Second World War. In the post-war era, important land titling projects were implemented in Kenya in the 1950s and in Malawi in the 1970s. The list does not stop here; a dozen other African countries have experimented with private titling projects.

Unfortunately, the results of these efforts have been disappointing. In Kenya, in particular, titling enriched politically well-connected individuals at the expense of the poor and also reduced women’s control of land. In Somalia, scholars found no significant correlation between titling and investments in agriculture.

The question that reformers and property-rights advocates face is this: can titling projects in the developing world live up to their promise? Perhaps, but if a country’s rule of law is weak, if it has high transaction costs for property transfers, or if it erects barriers that limit entrepreneurship, then the benefits of titling will be muted. Property reform should always be considered in light of the broader legal, regulatory, and customary environment. A lack of detailed local knowledge will imperil any titling project.


Citation (Chicago-Style)

Boudreaux, Karol. "Langa Case Study," In International Property Rights Index, Washington, D.C., Property Rights Alliance, 2008.