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Doctoral thesis, 2015

Essays on resource policy, gender and land rights

Widman, Marit


This thesis consists of four papers. Articles I-III address gender aspects of land formalization and the role of land ownership for intra-household bargaining power. They draw on evidence from a land tenure reform in Madagascar implemented in 2005, a key component of which was to grant land certificates, i.e. private property rights to landholders. During fieldwork in Madagascar in 2011, I collected household survey data and conducted focus group interviews, mainly in the rural municipality Soavinandriana. In Articles I and II I assess the outcome of the reform in terms of securing women’s land rights, using a combination of econometric and qualitative methods. The analyses suggest that the certification program has strengthened both men’s and women’s formal claims to individually held land. However, there is bias for men’s land certificates. Policy makers presumed the land legislation to be gender-neutral and therefore no gender equality principles and no mechanisms to ensure joint ownership were enforced. Problems of access, long waiting times, and high costs of the land administration were given priority over gender issues. The political crisis in Madagascar in 2009, resulting in underfunding and weak implementation of the reform, further weakened efforts to promote women’s rights to land. In Article III we investigate analytically and through numerical simulations how the intra-household bargaining positions of a couple are affected by the opportunity to title agricultural land, and how the couple's titling choice is determined. Results suggest that when land registration is offered to couples as a discrete choice between individual or joint titles there is a risk that women with weak initial bargaining positions will be further weakened following the reform. A joint title will only be chosen if the spouses start off with relatively equal bargaining positions; otherwise a male title will be chosen. In Article IV we compare the costs of livestock depredation by carnivores across different carnivore species – brown bear, wolf and lynx – and regions. We estimate the government’s compensation cost function, using Swedish data on county level in the years 2001–2013. Results indicate that costs are determined by the densities of predators, livestock, and alternative prey, the share of forest pasture, and the unit compensation level granted by authorities. Considerable differences in marginal costs between predator species and counties are estimated, accentuating the challenges facing policy makers trying to reconcile different policy objectives.


Gender; Land tenure; Land reform; Intra-household bargaining; Madagascar; Large Carnivores; Wildlife Damage Compensation

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2015, number: 2015:104
ISBN: 978-91-576-8406-6, eISBN: 978-91-576-8407-3
Publisher: Department of Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Widman, Marit
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics

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