Land, Law and Economic Development

34 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2006

See all articles by Kenneth W. Dam

Kenneth W. Dam

University of Chicago - Law School; Brookings Institution

Date Written: January 2006


Real estate is a major source of wealth in the developing world. And since in many developing countries the majority of the population lives in rural areas, land law and institutions are of special importance to economic development. The importance to rural incomes growth of legal certainty with regard to land titles and transfers is well established. It would nevertheless be a mistake to view communal land systems as necessarily standing in the way of economic development because they are usually not open access systems subject to the tragedy of the commons. Where economic changes, such as expansion of cities and exploitation of natural resources, impinge on communal land areas, attention to the administrative, financial and human capital challenges of implementing land titling systems is crucial.

Keywords: land, real estate, land reform, land rental, land transfer, land sale, land registry, registry, agriculture, De Soto, tragedy of the commons, commons, enclosure, evolution, rural land contracting, use right, tenure, customary right, customary law, communal, communal property, communal law

Suggested Citation

Dam, Kenneth W., Land, Law and Economic Development (January 2006). U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 272. Available at SSRN: or

Kenneth W. Dam (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0216 (Phone)
773-702-0356 (Fax)

Brookings Institution ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036-2188
United States

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