Impact Evaluation of the Rural Land Use Plans 2011, Baseline Survey
Throughout rural Sub-Saharan Africa, the allocation and enforcement of land rights involve a diverse and complex set of customary arrangements made and upheld by local stakeholders such as village chiefs, councils of elders, and land chiefs. Customary land tenure systems often coexist with formal land administration systems, where proof of ownership or of use rights is documented with registered titles or deeds. Yet only a small proportion of the population holds formal land titles for the land they de facto own. This lack of formal land rights may lead to under-investment and sub-optimal yields. Codification of private property rights within an effective legal framework should in theory increase agricultural investment and productivity, and spur economic development. Hence, the policy response to undocumented property rights has often been the “formalization” of land tenure (i.e., the incorporation of “informal”, customary, undocumented tenure claims into the formal system of property rights), often through the provision of freehold titles.
While land titling programs have met with relative success in rural and urban settings, the evidence from Africa is less positive. This contrast is perhaps due to oversimplified interventions that neglect the complexity of customary land relations in rural areas, the limited capacity of central land administrations for the delivery of titles, or the difficulties in establishing decentralized institutions. The distributional impacts of land formalization programs are also ambiguous: Despite some claims of the possibly deleterious effects of individualizing land rights for women, there is scant rigorous evidence from impact evaluations to support or refute these claims.
Benin is one of the countries in West Africa where the design and implementation of policies to consolidate land rights is furthest advanced. The Plan Foncier Rural (PFR), first tried in Côte d'Ivoire in 1989 and piloted in Benin since 1993, is a key policy experiment in this respect. The program is currently in the initial stages of a planned implementation scale-up in Benin. The objectives of the program are to improve tenure security and stimulate agricultural investment in rural areas through the registration of land rights.
The Plan Fonciers Ruraux Impact Evaluation presents early evidence from the first large-scale randomized-controlled trial of a land formalization policy. The study was designed to address the following questions and issues:
- What is the effect of the PFR on perceived and de facto tenure security?
- What is the effect of the PFR on land market participation and land prices?
- What is the effect of the PFR on investment in land and agricultural production and yields?
- Additional issues: off-farm activities and gender differentiated impacts
The study examines the links between land demarcation and investment in rural Benin in light of a model of agricultural production under insecure tenure. The demarcation process involved communities in the mapping and attribution of land rights; cornerstones marked parcel boundaries and offered lasting landmarks. Consistent with the model, improved tenure security under demarcation induces a shift toward long-term investment on treated parcels. This investment does not yet coincide with gains in agricultural productivity. The analysis also identifies significant gender specific effects. Female-managed landholdings in treated villages are more likely to be left fallow—an important soil fertility investment. Women further respond to an exogenous tenure security change by moving production away from relatively secure, demarcated land and toward less secure land outside the village to guard those parcels.
Kind of data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Version 01, edited version with direct identifying variables removed.
The study gathered information on 3,507 households interviewed in 291 villages selected from 40 communes which cover 9 of Benin's 12 regions (départements) or first-level administrative divisions.
Unit of analysis
Household and Community
Producers and sponsors
The World Bank
Paris School of Economics and University of Namur
The World Bank
The World Bank
The World Bank
The sample was drawn using a sub-set of rural households from a national household survey from 2010. In total, 3,507 households were surveyed in 291 villages, of which 192 were selected to receive a PFR and 99 were randomly selected to serve as control villages, resulting in 66 observed lottery pools. In line with the identification strategy, this study focused on those households with at least one landholding in their village of residence: 85% of households had one landholding in the same village as their homestead, 9% had their landholding outside their village of residence, and 6% had no landholdings. This led to a working sample of 4,972 households, with detailed information on 6,094 parcels.
Dates of collection
Mode of data collection
Computer Assisted Personal Interview [capi]
The multi-topic household survey instrument covered a detailed set of questions related to basic demographics, parcel land use, intra-household control of resources, and agricultural production. The land modules elicit a rich set of information on perceived and de facto tenure security, perceived rights, market participation, and investment at the parcel level, while the agricultural modules allow for productivity estimates at the agricultural plot level. A community questionnaire was also administered to a set of key respondents with diverse responsibilities in each village. It includes information on village-level demographics, infrastructure, social services, economic activities, and mode of land acquisition, land market activity, and conflicts.
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the Identification of the Primary Investigator
- the title of the survey (including country, acronym and year of implementation)
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download
Markus Goldstein, The World Bank. Benin Plans Fonciers Ruraux Impact Evaluation (PFRIE-BL) 2011, Baseline Survey. Ref. BEN_2011_PFRIE-BL_v01_M_v01_A_PUF. Dataset downloaded from [URL] on [date].
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.