Are free land arrangement really free? An exploration into land arrangements made by rural-urban migrants in the Northeast of Thailand

Abstract : This paper contributes to an emerging literature on free land arrangements in developing countries. We argue that in-depth empirical analysis is crucial to understand the specific terms of land arrangements. Using mixed quantitative and qualitative data collected among rural-urban migrants in Thailand, we categorize land arrangements along four dimensions: self-reported categories by the actors, the nature of the relationship between the parties involved, the nature of the payment made, and how explicit or binding are the contractual terms. The economic motivations in each of the consequent categories of land arrangement are then analyzed with simple econometrics. Our main results suggest that while free land arrangements are allegedly common practice in Thailand, only a small number of these free arrangements are really free. Many appear to be a `disguised form of rental contract', similar to sharecropping except for the fact that they are reported as free arrangements. Disguised rental is often found among households who rely heavily on the safety net function of land. Or results also suggest that the arrangements which do not involve any direct repayment or compensation are often parts of complex inter-vivo bequests, and involve incomplete transfers of property rights.
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Gwendoline Promsopha. Are free land arrangement really free? An exploration into land arrangements made by rural-urban migrants in the Northeast of Thailand. 2017. ⟨hal-01565843⟩

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