The Review of Austrian Economics

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 251–268 | Cite as

The political economy of legal titling

  • Ilia MurtazashviliEmail author
  • Jennifer Murtazashvili


The libertarian case for legal titling is that formalization of the economic (de facto) rights of those who own land and buildings improves prospects for capitalism and, ultimately, development. Although all rich countries have private property rights, we argue that the success of legal titling depends on a certain kind of state—what we call a property-protecting state—that is often missing in developing countries. We use insights from Austrian economics, public choice, and institutional economics to clarify the political basis for legal titling to improve land tenure security. Evidence from Afghanistan shows that legal titling has not worked because the country does not have a property-protecting state. We suggest focusing on improving political institutions before investing in legal titling. In the meantime, it makes more sense to register land ownership at the community level, without the state.


Legal titling Institutions Private property Polycentric governance Political constraints Self-governance 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Public and International AffairsUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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