The Role of Land Policy in Agricultural Transformation and Inclusive Economic Growth: Implications for Africa


Paper prepared for presentation at the “2016 WORLD BANK CONFERENCE ON LAND AND POVERTY,” The World Bank—Washington DC, March 14-18, 2016.

Authors: Thomas Jayne (Michigan State University), Caleb Stevens (US Agency for International Development), Sarah Lowery (US Agency for International Development), Mercedes Stickler (US Agency for International Development)

This paper addresses two fundamental relationships affecting economic transformation in developing countries: the relationship between labor productivity growth and land distribution, and the extent to which land distribution patterns can be proactively influenced by land policies. The first question draws upon ongoing multi-country research that examines how farmland ownership patterns influence the income and employment multiplier effects from agricultural growth. The second question is addressed through case studies of alternative tenure approaches, ranging from countries that have devolved land rights to communities to strengthen their control over land allocation and security, to those that have used more centralized land governance approaches. The juxtaposition of the bodies of literature on these two relationships will produce a synthesis of current knowledge about ways in which land distribution and land policies might contribute effectively to economic transformation, taking account of the wide variations in land governance and farm structures in the region.