We examine how weather variability affects agricultural landownership rates in Africa, where at least half of the population depends on agriculture to earn a livelihood. In the absence of effective adaptation strategies, households that experience difficulties farming due to environmental stress might leave their land. With implications for demography – through migration – and political instability – when affected populations express grievances – changing landownership patterns could make existing development challenges on the continent even more difficult. We test our hypothesis that drier than average growing seasons will reduce landownership rates using Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). Our DHS dataset includes interviews with 850,961 households in 35 African countries between 2005 and 2017. Compared to regions experiencing weather near the historical average, those with five consecutive dry growing seasons before the DHS experienced a 6.93% decline in the landownership rate. For every additional dry growing season during the five years before each survey, the landownership rate fell by 1.38%. A host of robustness checks support our general conclusion that drying conditions are associated with lower landownership rates.
Linke, Andrew & Andreas Forø Tollefsen (2021) Environmental stress and agricultural landownership in Africa, Global Environmental Change 67 (102237).