This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
Dr. Kelly M. Askew and Dr. Howard Stein (University of Michigan) will undertake research on the livelihood effects of planned transformation of local-level economic institutions in post-socialist contexts. The researchers will test the theory that giving title to land will reduce poverty by turning common property resources into private resources. The research will be carried out in Tanzania where title over all land was long vested in the state, but where there is now a renewed emphasis on land titling to foster the benefits of private ownership. Because the program is still in process, the researchers can take advantage of the "natural experiment" of being able to compare a district (Mbozi) where titling has been completed with another district (Iringa) in which it has just begun.
The researchers will use a variety of research methods including field observations, semi-structured and structured interviews, quantitative surveys, and GIS data collection. They will gather information from farmers, pastoralists, government officials, banking personnel, non-governmental organizations, and Tanzanian experts. Their objectives are: (1) to examine and compare how groups and individuals define the nature of land rights; (2) to identify the winners and losers in the formalization of land rights; (3) to determine the impact of titling on rural livelihoods (e.g., access to credit, land productivity, land values, land market activity); (4) to better understand how titling affects the land disputes and their resolution; and (5) to identify the impact of titling on rural people's actual and perceived security of tenure.
The research is important because it will contribute to social science theories of "institutional hiatus," or, what happens when existing institutions and supporting sociocultural systems are no longer capable of coordinating economic activity due to shifts in the rules, organizations, or erosion in capacities. The research also will help formulate policy recommendations, guidelines, and interventions for the management of land rights as part of planned poverty alleviation strategies throughout the world.