The Politics of Land Reform in Uganda
University of Kansas
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When do citizens obey the law? What determines when people conform to or dismiss legal/institutional arrangements? Citizens pursue economic interests, and governments capture the productive potential of their citizenry through institutional incentives. Alternatively, governments incentivize that same potential into the informal economy with institutional failures. Savvy citizens know when they can prosper in formal and informal markets, and they choose between those markets to protect their interests. They evaluate risks and rewards, and they choose. Protecting property - whither government or non-government protection - is foundational to both types of markets, and can determine citizens' choice. In this study, successive governments in Uganda have attracted mass participation in productive economic sectors, and they have also repelled investment. My longitudinal study investigates land laws and policies throughout Uganda's colonial and post-colonial history in order to distill lessons about when citizens partake in formal market institutions. Citizens adopt laws when the governments make it in their interest to adopt them, and they shirk new institutional arrangements when those arrangements are too costly. However, because secure property rights are so fundamental to market transactions, Ugandans around the country create their own local institutions that are accessible, efficient, cheap, and that reflect community relationships. While these land relationships have problems, they illustrate a fundamental demand for secure property rights. Establishing and defining property rights are political choices, they go through political processes, and they subject to the influence of politically powerful groups. The workings of these informal institutions, and the relative failure of government programs, provide lessons for political scientists, policy experts, and Ugandan legislators.
- Dissertations 
- Political Science Dissertations and Theses 
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