Land Rights and Access Indicator


This indicator evaluates whether and to what extent governments are investing in secure land tenure.

Relationship to Growth & Poverty Reduction

Secure land tenure plays a central role in the economic growth process by giving people long-term incentives to invest and save their income, enhancing access to essential public services, allowing for more productive use of time and money than protecting land rights, facilitating use of land as collateral for loans, and contributing to social stability and local governance. 1 Improvements in tenure security also favor growth that is “pro-poor” because the benefits generally accrue to those who have not possessed such rights in the past and those who are affected most by high property registration costs. 2 Land policy reform can be particularly meaningful for women: research shows that when women have secure access to land and are able to exercise control over land assets, their ability to earn income is enhanced, household spending on healthcare, nutritious foods, and children’s education increases, and human capital accumulation occurs at a faster rate. Women’s ability to inherit and possess control rights to land also serves as a crucial social safety net. 3


This composite indicator is calculated as the weighted average of three indicators. Access to Land is weighted 50% and Days and Cost to Register Property are each weighted 25%.

  • Access to Land: Produced by IFAD, this indicator assesses the extent to which the institutional, legal, and market framework provides secure land tenure and equitable access to land in rural areas. It is made up of five subcomponents: (1) the extent to which the law guarantees secure tenure for land rights of the poor; (2) the extent to which the law guarantees secure land rights for women and other vulnerable groups; (3) the extent to which land is titled and registered; (4) the functioning of land markets; and (5) the extent to which government policies contribute to the sustainable management of common property resources. IFAD’s operational staff base their assessments on a questionnaire and guideposts identifying the basis of each scoring level, available at
  • Days to Register Property: Produced by the IFC, this indicator measures how long it takes to register property in a periurban zone. The IFC records the full amount of time necessary when a business purchases land and a building to transfer the property title from the seller to the buyer so that the buyer can use the title for expanding business, as collateral in taking new loans, or, if necessary, to sell to another business.
  • Cost of Registering Property: Produced by the IFC, this indicator measures the cost to register property in a periurban zone as a percentage of the value of the property. The IFC records all of the costs that are incurred when a business purchases land and a building to transfer the property title from the seller to the buyer, so that the buyer can use it for expanding his business, as collateral in taking new loans, or, if necessary, to sell it to another business.

To calculate the Days and Cost of Registering a Property indicators, local property lawyers, notaries and property registries provide information on procedures as well as the time and cost to complete each of them. To make the data comparable across countries, several assumptions about the parties to the transaction, the property and the procedures are used.

The parties (buyer and seller):

  • Are limited liability companies.
  • Are located in the periurban area of the country’s most populous city.
  • Are 100% domestically and privately owned.
  • Have 50 employees each, all of whom are nationals.
  • Perform general commercial activities.

The property:

  • Has a value of 50 times income per capita. The sale price equals the value.
  • Is fully owned by the seller.
  • Has no mortgages attached and has been under the same ownership for the past 10 years.
  • Is registered in the land registry or cadastre, or both, and is free of title disputes.
  • Is located in a periurban commercial zone, and no rezoning is required.
  • Consists of land and a building. The land area is 557.4 square meters (6,000 square feet). A 2-story warehouse of 929 square meters (10,000 square feet) is located on the land. The warehouse is 10 years old, is in good condition and complies with all safety standards, building codes and other legal requirements. The property of land and building will be transferred in its entirety.
  • Will not be subject to renovations or additional building following the purchase.
  • Has no trees, natural water sources, natural reserves or historical monuments of any kind.
  • Will not be used for special purposes, and no special permits, such as for residential use, industrial plants, waste storage or certain types of agricultural activities, are required.
  • Has no occupants (legal or illegal), and no other party holds a legal interest in it.


  • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

  • International Finance Corporation (IFC)

  • 1. World Bank. 2003. Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction. Washington D.C.: World Bank. Besley, Timothy. 1995. Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence form Ghana. Journal of Political Economy 103(5): 905-93. Keefer, P., and S. Knack. 2002. Polarization, Politics, and Property Rights: Links between Inequality and Growth. Public Choice 111(1–2): 127–54.; De Soto, Hernando. 2000. The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. New York: Basic Books.; Birdsall, N., and J. L. Londono. 1997. Asset Inequality Matters: An Assessment of the World Bank’s Approach to Poverty Reduction. American Economic Review 87(2): 32–37. Acemoglu, D., S. Johnson, and J. Robinson. 2001. The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation. American Economic Review 91 (5): 1369-1401. Rodrik, Dani. 2000. Institutions for High-Quality Growth: What They Are and How to Acquire Them. Studies in Comparative International Development 35(3): 3-31.; Alden-Wily, L. 2002. Comments on the Legal Basis for Land Administration in an African Context. Paper presented at the World Bank Regional Land Policy Workshop, April 29–May 2, Kampala, Uganda. The empirical literature on secure land tenure also suggests a strong link to sustainable natural resource management. See A. Cattaneo, A. 2001. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon: Comparing the Impacts of Macroeconomic Shocks, Land Tenure, and Technological Change. Land Economics 77(2): 219–40. World Bank. 2003. Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction. Washington D.C.: World Bank.) Cross-national empirical studies also demonstrate a strong relationship between rule of law – a close correlate of secure land tenure – and environmental protection. See Daniel Esty and Michael Porter. 2005. National environmental performance: an empirical analysis of policy results and determinants. Environment and Development Economics 10: 391–434; Robert T. Deacon. 1994. Deforestation and the Rule of Law in a Cross-Section of Countries. Land Economics 70: 414-430.
  • 2. Ravallion, M., and Datt, G. 2002. Why has economic growth been more pro-poor in some states of India than others? Journal of Development Economics 68 (2): 381-400. Christiaensen, L., L. Demery, and S. Paternostro. 2003. Macro and Micro Perspectives of Growth and Poverty in Africa. The World Bank Economic Review 17: 317-334. World Bank. 2003. Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction. Washington D.C.: World Bank.
  • 3. World Bank. 2003. Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction. Washington D.C.: World Bank. Adesina, A. A., and K. K. Djato. 1996. Farm Size, Relative Efficiency, and Agrarian Policy in Côte d’Ivoire: Profit Function Analysis of Rice Farms. Agricultural Economics 14(2): 93–102. Adesina, A. A., and K. K. Djato. 1997. Relative Efficiency of Women as Farm Managers: Profit Function Analysis in Côte d’Ivoire. Agricultural Economics 16(1): 47–53. Udry, C. 1996. Gender, Agricultural Production, and the Theory of the Household. Journal of Political Economy 104(5): 1010–46. Dolan, C. S. 2001. The ‘Good Wife’: Struggles over Resources in the Kenyan Horticultural Sector. Journal of Development Studies 37(3): 39–70. Quisumbing, A. R., and K. Otsuka. 2001. Land, Trees, and Women: Evolution of Land Tenure Institutions in Western Ghana and Sumatra. Research Report no. 121. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington D.C. Deere, C. D., and M. Leon. 2001. Empowering Women: Land and Property Rights in Latin America. Pitt Latin America Series. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Schultz, T. P. 1999. Women’s Role in the Agricultural Household: Bargaining and Human Capital. Discussion Paper no. 803. Yale University, Economic Growth Center, New Haven, Connecticut. Strickland, Richard. 2004. To Have and To Hold: Women’s Property and Inheritance Rights in the Context of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.