Plural Inheritance Laws, Practices and Emergent Types of Property—Implications for Updating the Land Register

Z. Abubakari, C. Richter, J.A. Zevenbergen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Sustaining up-to-date land registers in the global south is an increasing concern for the protection of tenure, development of land markets and long-term sustainable planning practices and policy. It requires both the prompt reporting of land transfers and also an alignment between prevailing land rights and official recording systems. The literature on land registration highlights some effects of inheritance practices on the land register and land development. Taking these studies a step further, our research investigates how such effects evolve from the rules that guide inheritance practices using a qualitative research approach. We found that normative practices of inheritance mostly lead to communal property through numerous processes which have implications on the timing and likelihood of possible registration. Also, we found that the significance of land and buildings in the social context transcends the physical property per se and includes dimensions of spirituality and social identity. Our findings explain the misalignment between the official and social logics of property and suggest likelihood of non-reporting. We conclude that flexibility is required in recording communal rights in rural areas and that the transition to individual property is more likely in peri-urban and urban areas where the social logics of property have broken.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6087
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • inheritance laws;
  • inheritance practices;
  • land register;
  • land registration;
  • updating;
  • property types;
  • matrilineal;
  • patrilineal


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