Evolving Practice in Land Demarcation

Benito Arruñada (Pompeu Fabra University and Barcelona GSE)

Abstract: To better identify the full costs and benefits of land demarcation policies, this paper models demarcation choices and distinguishes between physical and legal demarcation of land boundaries. In contrast with the influential “land administration” literature and World Bank’s policy, the analysis supports voluntary—instead of mandatory—demarcation as well as non-integrated services for land administration. Consistent with its theoretical argument, the paper empirically verifies that demarcation conflicts play a lesser role in title-, land- and property-related litigation, which seems to increase in all these areas after physical demarcation is made mandatory. It also observes that linking and merging tax cadastres and land registries does not correlate with lower transaction costs.