Essays on Social Networks, Land Tenure, and Productivity: Program Take-Up, Land Certification, Land Markets, and Environmental Shocks

PhD defence

Birhanu Addisu Adamie


High level of food insecurity in the face of climate change and population growth has amplified the urgency for sustainable solutions more than ever before. Climate change and population growth affect the amount and the quality of land available for food production and pose pressure on households’ access to farmland creating food insecurity, especially in developing countries. To overcome the growing land scarcity, polices and interventions that increase agricultural productivity and ensure sustainability are important. Land tenure security interventions are among the top of policy recommendation with the argument that it increases agricultural productivity, encourage investment in sustainable land use and enhance land transfers to efficient land users. This thesis investigates the effectiveness of land security interventions on different aspects of rural households and the implications of environmental shocks on smallholders’ productivity using observational datasets from two sub-Saharan Africa countries: Ethiopia and Gambia.

In particular, the paper investigates the role of socio-political networks in land allocation in rural Gambia, effectiveness of land certification programs in nudging farmers’ development program take-up and land market participation, and role of environmental shocks on agricultural performance of rural households and how to incorporate such factors in to efficiency models. The thesis provides the following findings: i) land transfers follow social connections and political hierarchy, however, evidence on need-based transfers with balancing effect in line with the complementarity of land and labor endowments also exists; ii) tenure security encourages households take-up of agricultural development programs; iii) land certification programs increase households rental market participation, but differential effects exist across regions in Ethiopia in line with stringency of  rental market regulations and strength of social cohesion; and iv) productivity of smallholder farmers are highly influenced by environmental shocks and we need to account such factors in efficiency analysis in, especially, developing countries where such factors are more prevalent and out of farmers control.


Professor Mette Asmild
Professor John Rand


Associate Professor Martin Reinhardt Nielsen, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen

Committee members

Professor Stein Terje Holden, NMBU, Norway
Associate Professor Niklas Bengtsson, Uppsala University, Sweden