As The Economist magazine of September 12, 2020 noted, the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto made the startling observation 20 years ago that people in poor countries are not as poor as they seem. They have assets—lots of them—but they cannot prove that they own them, so they cannot use them as collateral. A legal document is worth little if its owner cannot easily use it. If poor people had clear, legal title to their property, they could borrow more easily to buy better seeds or start a business. Or send their children to a better school. Or cope with a pandemic. They could invest in their land—by irrigating it or erecting a shop—without fear that someone might one day grab it. As The Economist noted, property rights can make the poor richer.
is the world’s first globally comparable measure of land and property rights. Its data for 140 countries covering 96% of the world’s adult population released in July 2020 show that almost 1 billion people around the world feel it is likely or very likely that they will lose their land or home within the next five years. The Prindex data also covers India, where some 22% of adults feel insecure about their property. Land and property rights measures can trigger a race to the top among countries and within countries for establishing systems of secure property and land rights. Such measurement can reveal the poverty-reducing potential of more secure property rights that is being wasted. And they can help build stronger constituencies for change linked to urbanisation, environmental change, poverty alleviation and women’s rights.
On October 12, NCAER hosted Malcolm Childress
of the Global Land Alliance and Anna Locke
of the Overseas Development Institute to share the findings of their just–released Prindex global assessment of perceived tenure security. To discuss the implications of the Prindex findings for India and the country’s own, long-standing quest for more secure property and land rights, they were joined by Jagdeesh Rao Puppala
of the Foundation for Ecological Security, Pranab Ranjan Choudhury
of the Center for Land Governance, and Shashanka Bhide
of NCAER. Shekhar Shah
, NCAER’s Director General, moderated the discussion and also introduced NCAER’s ongoing and forthcoming work on measuring the quality, accuracy, and accessibility of land records, how Indian households use them, how households perceive their property rights, and how land records and perceptions might be related. The panellists discussed how more secure property rights could help poor, land-owning rural households cope better with the economic ravages and the long-lasting scars likely from the Coronavirus pandemic in India. The discussion was followed by a Q&A session with the participants. The panellists also responded to write-in questions from webinar participants. The discussion was attended by over 80 participants.