Many African countries rely on sporadic land transfers from customary to statutory domains to attract investment and improve agricultural performance. Data from 15,000 smallholders and 800 estates in Malawi allow exploring the long-term effects of such a strategy. The results suggest that (i) most estates are less productive than smallholders; (ii) fear of land loss, although not exclusively due to estates, is associated with a 12 percent productivity loss for females, which is large enough to finance a low-cost tenure regularization program; and (iii) failure to collect realistic land rents implies public revenue losses of up to US$50 million per year.
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