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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Land scarcity, property rights and resource allocation in agriculture: eastern and southern Africa
Authors:Ault, D.E.
Rutman, G.L.ISNI
Periodical:South African Journal of Economics
Geographic terms:Kenya
South Africa
Subjects:land scarcity
customary law
land law
External link:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1813-6982.1993.tb01197.x
Abstract:Individual rights to property, including land use, existed in sub-Saharan Africa prior to European colonization. In this paper, the authors examine the process by which individual rights to land became more clearly defined in the customary law of portions of eastern and southern Africa that were once part of the British colonial empire. They also analyse the effects of changes in property rights on the economic efficiency of resource allocation. They draw upon anthropological evidence from two periods, one in which land was relatively abundant, and one in which land became relatively scarce. The authors show that African common law was flexible and, through the settlement of disputes over land rights, evolved in response to changes in the economic environment so as to provide incentives for an efficient reallocation of resources used in agriculture. To illustrate the often negative role of government, three cases are used in which the central government intervened to prevent the evolutionary development of individual rights to land use through the resolution of disputes in its courts. In each of these cases, the central government imposed a government-administered land tenure system accompanied by an agricultural organization that, while serving its political interests, did not provide incentives for the individual cultivator to use resources efficiently. Bibliogr., notes, ref.