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Property rights over agricultural land in particular are central to policymaking in developing countries given their potentially important role for agricultural productivity and investment, poverty and inequality. Economic theory suggests property rights may operate through several channels to increase investment but despite the importance of this issue, limited empirical evidence exists on either the overall effect or the importance of the particular channels.
Farmers in the Philippines commonly do not have individual property rights over their land but instead hold collective rights with neighbors. The Government of the Philippines recognizes that these collective titles may constrain investment and financial market development and is implementing a programme to subdivide the collective land and formalize the individual property rights, a process referred to as parcelization. This project evaluates the impact of the parcelization programme using a cluster-randomized trial with the goal of understanding the impact of formal property rights on investment and the degree to which the lack of formal rights limits financial market development.
In particular, the evaluation will focus on understanding the constraints to investment in agriculture and the channels - such as access to credit, security of tenure or more efficient land markets -- through which formal property rights may allow for increased investment. The key outcomes of interest are agricultural investment, output and profits; credit use and access to credit; land market efficiency and perceptions of security of property rights.