This paper investigates the factors that have shaped the institutions governing property in land inWest Africa. Using a regression discontinuity design, I estimate the effects of the divergent de jure property law of Ghana and Cˆote d’Ivoire on de facto property rights institutions. I find that households just on either side of the border between the two states report similar prevalence of rights to transfer their land. My findings provide evidence that formal law has played a limited role in property rights institutions and that instead non-state sources of norms shape the de facto rules governing property in land. Furthermore, I show that part of the substantial within-country variation in property rights institutions is explained by economic factors, as hypothesized by Demsetz (1967).\nIn particular, areas that are more suitable for growing cocoa have a greater prevalence of transfer rights, providing evidence that the commercialization of agriculture has led to more individualized property rights institutions.