Discussion Papers

No.902 Gender matters in farm investment: Implications for land tenure security and household welfare

by Masanori Matsuura, Obed Chanda, Chieko Umetsu, Wataru Kodama, Abu Hayat Md. Saiful Islam

August 2023


The gender gap in rural development has received attention from researchers and practitioners, and for women’s empowerment, it is necessary to better understand how gender intersects with land tenure and farm investments. However, there is a lack of research on the relationship between women's managerial rights, farm investment, and household welfare. This study examines the nexus among land tenure security, farm investment, and household welfare, as well as their interactions with gender in Zambia, one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. To this end, we use datasets from a new nationally representative panel survey in Zambia and take advantage of the two distinct kinship systems in the country: matrilineal and patrilineal. We find that land tenure is positively associated with farm investment and that women with land tenure are more likely to invest in tree planting to protect harvests from weather shocks. Furthermore, soil and land management enhances farm income and alleviates food insecurity. Dividing households into matrilineal and patrilineal societies reveals that households led by women benefit from land tenure security and farm investment in patrilineal but not matrilineal societies. This heterogeneity suggests that the gender gap in rural areas stems from the male dominance in land stewardship. These findings therefore provide insights into the underpinnings of policies that empower women and increase their bargaining power within households through land reform.

Keywords: Women empowerment, Land rights, Bargaining power, Matrilineal and patrilineal societies, Food security, Sub-Saharan Africa
JEL classification: J16, Q12, Q15

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