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Land titling is a form of land reform in which private individuals and families are given formal property rights for land which they have previously occupied informally or used on the basis of customary land tenure.[1] Proponents argue that providing formal titles increases security of land tenure, supports development of markets in land, and allows better access to credit (using land titles as collateral). Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto Polar is the most well-known advocate of the approach, but it has a long history.[2] Recently, "inspired by these ideas, and fostered by international development agencies, land titling programs have been launched throughout developing and transition economies as part of poverty alleviation efforts."[3] In 1999 UN Habitat launched a "Global Campaign for Secure Tenure".[4]

Evidence on the effectiveness of land titling for poverty reduction and economic development is mixed, with the key issue being the impact of titling on the security of land tenure, which varies.[4] Particularly where customary land is involved, the introduction of formal land registration may have unpredictable effects, with the efficiency and marketisation of existing forms of land tenure underestimated, and the costs of formal registration underestimated and the security of formal land title overestimated.[2] In many countries, recipients of formal title have later found that their titles did not give them the expected security in the face of market or state requirements to obtain their land.[4] Some studies have found positive outcomes, albeit less strong than expected; one recent study on land titling in Argentina found that "entitling the poor increases their investment both in the houses and in the human capital of their children."[3]

The way in which land titling is carried out may raise gender issues.[5]


  1. ^ Bernadette Atuahene. "Land Titling: A Mode of Privatization with the Potential to Deepen Democracy", 50 Saint Louis University Law Journal 761 (2006).
  2. ^ a b Larmour, P. (2002), "Policy transfer and reversal: Customary land registration from Africa to Melanesia", Public Administration and Development 22 (2), pp. 151-161
  3. ^ a b Sebastian Galiani and Ernesto Schargrodsky (2010), "Property rights for the poor: Effects of land titling", Journal of Public Economics, Volume 94, Issues 9-10, October 2010, Pages 700-729
  4. ^ a b c Payne, G., Durand-Lasserve, A., Rakodi, C. (2009), "The limits of land titling and home ownership", Environment and Urbanization 21 (2), pp. 443-462
  5. ^ Carmen Diana Deere, Magdalena León (2001), "Who Owns the Land? Gender and Land-Titling Programmes in Latin America", Journal of Agrarian Change, Volume 1, Issue 3, pages 440–467

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