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When Is Legal Titling An Economic Answer to Political Violence?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Murtazashvili, Jennifer; Murtazashvili, Ilia
Conference: Informality and Development: A Conference in Honor of Elinor Ostrom
Location: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Conf. Date: October 22-23
Date: 2016
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10164
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): self-governance
Abstract: "Legal titling, because it promises to reduce participation in insurgency and terrorism by creating economic opportunities, represents an economic approach to soft power—winning 'hearts and minds' of civilians during conflict. Despite its widespread use in state-building, this paper argues that legal titling is unlikely to reduce political violence in fragile states. We use insights from the public choice and self-governance literatures to clarify under what conditions legal titling improves economic opportunities. Generally speaking, these conditions are unlikely to be met in fragile states. We illustrate the argument using evidence from Afghanistan. Legal titling is conceptually inappropriate and the programs to date have been unsuccessful in improving household land tenure security. The strength of self-governing property arrangements suggests that community-based land reforms that eschew a role for the state in the land registration process are more likely to undermine support for insurgents than legal titling."

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