Asset Building Financial Inclusion Working Paper

Landholding and Household Development: What Do We Know?

This overview of research on effects of land ownership focuses on the economic, personal, and social effects of land ownership of small-scale farmers, often in developing nations, under the assumption that the household is the primary unit of production. A search for relevant studies from different fields of inquiry—economic development, rural sociology, family studies, anthropology, social work, medicine, and others—finds 39 empirical studies addressing the effects of land ownership. Sorting these studies into categories for discussion, we present the existing research on effects of land ownership on (1) level of consumption, (2) economic security, (3) investment, (4) women’s status, (5) children’s status and intergenerational relationships, (6) health, and (7) economic development.


Zhan, M., & Sherraden, M. (1998). Landholding and household development: What do we know? (CSD Working Paper No. 98-2). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.