Gender, Headship, and the Life Cycle: Landownership in Four Asian Countries

48 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2016

See all articles by Kathryn Sproule

Kathryn Sproule

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Caitlin Kieran

CGIAR - CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets

Agnes R. Quisumbing

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Cheryl R. Doss

University of Oxford - Department of International Development

Date Written: November 26, 2015

Abstract

Despite increasing evidence that households do not always function as one, policies regarding land and property rights are often formulated at the household level, assuming the primary adult male is the landowner. Because land policy reform has typically focused on changing household, rather than individual, rights to land, many of the data are collected at the household rather than the individual level. As a result of a combination of these factors, securing women’s land rights has remained a largely unaddressed issue by policymakers. So as to inform the formulation of policies and interventions to strengthen women’s land rights, this paper analyzes nationally representative data from Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam to understand the processes by which men and women acquire land; the social, cultural, and legal institutions surrounding gender and landownership; and the role of individual and household characteristics influencing an individual’s ability to own land. Our findings that women own less land than do men across different types of household structures and that gender inequality increases with household landholdings suggests that women’s land rights need to be strengthened within marriage and protected should the marriage dissolve. Although the impacts of gender-sensitive land policy reform are not well researched, early findings on policy reforms such as joint titling in Vietnam show that policies to strengthen women’s land rights have the potential to improve women’s well-being as well as their children’s without detrimental effects on productivity. Our findings of gender inequalities in intrahousehold land allocation and of increasing inequality as households accumulate land suggest an agenda for future research and policy that strengthens the land rights of women, particularly within marriage.

Keywords: Bangladesh; Tajikistan; Timor-Leste; Viet Nam; Vietnam; Central Asia; South Asia; South East Asia; Asia; gender; women; land ownership; assets; households; land rights; legal rights; land policies

Suggested Citation

Sproule, Kathryn and Kieran, Caitlin and Quisumbing, Agnes R. and Doss, Cheryl R., Gender, Headship, and the Life Cycle: Landownership in Four Asian Countries (November 26, 2015). IFPRI Discussion Paper 1481. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2741111 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2741111

Kathryn Sproule (Contact Author)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Caitlin Kieran

CGIAR - CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets ( email )

United States

Agnes R. Quisumbing

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Cheryl R. Doss

University of Oxford - Department of International Development ( email )

3 Mansfield Road
Oxford, OX1 3TB
United Kingdom

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