Invasions, Innovation, Environment
HERNANDO DESOTO AND PROPERTY IN A MARKET ECONOMY, Vol. 21, D. Benjamin Barros ed., 2009
22 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2009 Last revised: 26 Apr 2015
Date Written: May 12, 2010
Hernando DeSoto's book, The Mystery of Capital (2000), famously argued that informal land squatters should receive formal legal title, so that their titled property could give them access to capital and enable them to jumpstart economic development. This article explores two problems Mystery raises but leaves oddly unexamined: the necessary limits on claims to finite resources like land, and the potentially disruptive character of formal title for longstanding traditional communal property. This article discusses an array of possible reasons for Mystery's silence about these two issues, suggesting that Mystery, despite the great generality of its titling prescription, is still driven by the example of Peruvian internal migration that DeSoto explored in his earlier book, The Other Path (1989). The article concludes with a reminder of environmental and expressive issues that can accompany formalization of previously informal economic activities.
Keywords: DeSoto, formal title, finite resources, traditional landholding
JEL Classification: k11, k2, k32, k4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation