Evaluating the impact of Land Administration Programs on agricultural productivity and rural development

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Jan 2013
Investment in land administration projects is often considered key for agricultural productivity and rural development. The evidence on such interventions is however remarkably mixed. This paper discusses a number of challenges and derives related guidelines for the impact evaluation of land administration programs. We focus on four types of challenges: 1) a conceptual challenge related to the need to unbundle property rights and to establish the plausible causal chain for land administration interventions; 2) the existence of other binding constraints on productivity, implying the need to consider the complementarity between property rights and other productive interventions; 3) methodological challenges related to the causal identification of the impacts of such interventions; 4) practical and operational challenges for good impact evaluation on land administration, which are often operationally complex and politically sensitive. The paper is specifically written with a focus on land administration projects in Latin America, and draws from experiences and lessons learned from impact evaluations designed for the IDB, and other donors-funded land administration projects in the region.