Though poor agricultural land property rights are typical constraints that many peasants in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have faced since independence, little has been done to explain their persistence. I will first discuss the so called evolutionary theory of property right (ETPR), which stipulates that land property rights evolve as an afficient response to the economic environment. The empirical evidence suggests that the policies adopted by African regimes are actually in sharp contrast to what the ETPR predicts. I will then present a simple political economy model with three major assumptions that are commonly observed in SSA countries: (1) de jure political power belongs to the urban elite, (2) urban unrest is a source of threat to the elite and (3) a dual economy with urban and rural sector side by side. Major prediction of the model is that, in such political and economic environment, we observe poor land property rights if there is low level of urbanization and/or large gap between rural and urban wages, which actually are features of many SSA countries.


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