Land is the main – if not the only – asset for a majority of people in developing countries. The definition and allocation of rights over land are thus naturally essential aspects of individuals’ daily lives, as well as critical determinants of social and economic development. The privatization of land rights has long been seen as a necessary process, enhancing both efficiency and equity. However, privatized land rights have not always emerged endogenously, while exogenously driven programs of land privatization have not always been successful nor popular. This has raised questions about the expected benefits of land rights privatization. This paper aims at summarizing the main arguments and studies, both theoretical and empirical, on this issue, with a specific focus on the factors that can make privatization inefficient or detrimental for the most concerned individuals.
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