One Property Rights, Many Recipes?
By Arnold Kling
The legislative path is considered a rapid course to the creation of property rights…In some cases, when the economic mechanisms have been destroyed or have never existed in a functional form, the top-down legislative path is inescapable. Quite often, however, this path is subject to rent-seeking and capture by elites who use legislation to acquire and control property. Too often, legislation removes sticks from the bundle of property rights citizens hold, and this constricts trading opportunities, reduces the value of property and increases tenure insecurity.
…In many cases, particularly in Africa, customary law may provide a greater degree of tenure security than formal law. This raises the question: is the better path for securing property rights in Africa to somehow formalise customary rights and privileges (Alden Wiley, 2006)? There are no simple answers here either, as this approach is also fraught with complexity and uncertainty and not free from problems associated with rent-seeking behaviours