Property Rights and Land Market Dynamics: An Economic Interpretation of the Indigenous Land Tenure Transformation Process in Nigeria

  • L. Jide Iwarere
Part of the Research Issues in Real Estate book series (RIRE, volume 10)


This study examines the nature and causes of the evolution of property rights, with particular emphasis on the role of market forces in shaping its outcome. Using the Nigerian Land Use Act as the platform, it constructs an evolutionary theory of property rights assignment that recognizes the role of cultural and political forces, while giving primacy to economic considerations. It concludes that the behavior of Nigerian landowners to the regulatory shock is consistent with rational economic considerations but inconsistent with the expectations of the confiscatory legislation. The study employs data on landowners’ applications for the formalization of existing property rights to the new ‘Right of Occupancy’ over the first 15 years of implementation. The test of the landowner response to this requirement concludes that landowners are holding back on statutory formalization of their property rights as a rational response to the legislation.


Land Tenure Land Market Private Landowner Vacant Land Formal Market 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author will like to thank two anonymous referees and Dr. Robert A. Simons for their very helpful suggestions. The same goes for the following individuals for their assistance during the author’s field work: Mrs Ngozi Okonkwo and her senior staff at the Lands Division; and Dr Femi Obatomi, Director of Planning and Statistics, all of the former Nigerian Federal Ministry of Works and Housing; Mr. J. A. Adediran of Lagos State New Towns Development Authority, and Dr. Henry Taiwo Iwarere of Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti. Grants support by Howard University Faculty Research Program in Social Sciences, Humanities, and Education is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of these individuals and institutions.


  1. Adigun, Olayide (ed.), The LAND USE ACT: Administration and Policy Implication. Proceedings of Third National Workshop Held at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies University of Lagos from April 9–11, 1990, Lagos: University of Lagos Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  2. Antwi, Adarkwah Y. and Modupe M. Omirin, Investment Performance of Informal Properties in Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria, Our Common Estate Series, London: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 6(4), February 2006.Google Scholar
  3. Braimoh, Ademola K. and Takashi Onishi, Spatial Determinants of Urban Land Use Change in Lagos Nigeria, Land Use Policy, 4, 502–515, 2007.Google Scholar
  4. Braimoh, Ademola K., Spatial Analysis of Residential Land Use Change in Lagos Nigeria, Working Paper 144, United Nations University, Tokyo, January 2006.Google Scholar
  5. Coase, Ronald H., The Problem of Social Cost, Journal of Law and Economics, 3, 1–44, October 1960.Google Scholar
  6. Cooter, Robert and Thomas Ullen, Law and Economics, New York, NY: Addison Wesley, 2004.Google Scholar
  7. Earle, Timothy, Archaeology, Property, and Prehistory, Annual Review of Anthropology, 29, 39–60, 2000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Elias, Taslim O., Nigerian Land Law and Custom, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961.Google Scholar
  9. Fiani, Ronaldo, An Evaluation of the Role of the State and Property Rights in Douglas North Analysis, Journal of Economic Issues, Lincoln, 38(4), 1003–1020, 2004.Google Scholar
  10. Fischel, William, Economics of Zoning Laws: A Property Rights Approach to American Land Use Controls, Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  11. Federal Republic of Nigeria, The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Lagos: Government Printer, 1989.Google Scholar
  12. Federal Republic of Nigeria, The Land Use Act, Lagos: Government Printer, 1978.Google Scholar
  13. Garret, Martin, Land Use Regulation: The Impacts of Alternative Land Use Rights, New York: Praeger Publishers, 1987.Google Scholar
  14. Grossman, Herschell I., Production, Appropriation and Land Reform, American Economic Review, 84(3), 705–712, 1994.Google Scholar
  15. Iwarere, L. Jide, A Partial Adjustment Model of Landowner Behavior Under the Nigerian Land Use Act, Journal of Housing Research, 5(2), 247–262, 1994.Google Scholar
  16. Katz, Michael L. and Harvey S. Rosen, Macroeconomics, Boston, Massachussetts: Richard D. Irwin, 1994.Google Scholar
  17. Mattingly, Michael, Urban Land Markets in Developing Countries: Do Planners Know Enough About Them?, Land Use Policy, 8, 90–94, April 1991.Google Scholar
  18. Nigerian Law Reform Commission, Workshop Papers on the Reform of the Land Use Act, Federal Secretariat, Ikoyi, Lagos, 1992.Google Scholar
  19. Ola, C.S., Town and Country Planning Law in Nigeria, Ibadan: Ibadan University Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  20. Olayiwola, L.M., O.A. Adeleye, and A.O. Oduway, Correlates of Land Value Determinants in Lagos Metropolis, Nigeria, Journal of Human Ecology, 17(3), 183–189, 2005.Google Scholar
  21. Omirin, Modupe M., Land Accessibility and Low Income House Building Activity in Lagos Metropolitan Area, Lagos Journal of Environmental Studies, 1(1), 76–91, 1998.Google Scholar
  22. Omirin, Modupe M. and Adarkwah Y. Antwi, Informality, Illegality and Market Efficiency: A Case for Land Market Deregulation in Accra and Lagos, Our Common Estate Series, London: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 2004.Google Scholar
  23. Omotola, J.A., Essays on the Land Use Act, 1978, Lagos: Lagos University Press, 1980.Google Scholar
  24. Omotola, J.A., Planning Law in Nigeria, Third World Planning Review, 13(4), 381–98, 1991.Google Scholar
  25. Posner, Richard A., Economic Analysis of Law, Toronto, Canada: Little, Brown and Company, 1986.Google Scholar
  26. Umezuruike, Nweke O., The Land Use Decree, 1978: A Critical Analysis, Jos, Nigeria: Fab Anieh (Nigeria) Limited, 1989.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Finance, Int. Business, Insurance, Real Estate, School of BusinessHoward UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations