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Microeconomic Impacts of Institutional Change in Vietnam’s Northern Uplands

Empirical Studies on Social Capital, Land and Credit Institutions

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Camille Saint-Macary

The Doi Moi reforms initiated in Vietnam in 1986 to lead the transition from a centrally-planned to a market-oriented economy have entailed deep institutional transformations. At the national level, achievements have been impressive, the high economic growth in all sectors of the economy have permitted to divide poverty incidence by three in the country since 1993. Mountainous regions and its inhabitants, however, have lagged behind in the process. There, the combination of poverty and the degradation of natural resources remains a pressing issue. Drawing on a conceptual framework that highlights the determinant role of institutions in the poverty-environment nexus, this book investigates the sources of success and failure in the current institutional framework to address objectives of equity, economic growth and environmental sustainability in Vietnam’s mountains. The empirical investigation uses an original dataset collected in a rural district and examines three critical dimensions: the definition of land rights, the functioning of credit markets, and the formation of social capital.
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3 Land titling policy and soil conservation practices in the northern Uplands of Vietnam

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3. Land titling policy and soil conservation practices in the northern Uplands of Vietnam13

Abstract

In Vietnam, a quasi-private property regime has been established in 1993 with the issuance of exchangeable and mortgageable long-term land use right certificates. Using primary qualitative and quantitative data collected in a mountainous district of Northern Vietnam, this paper investigates the role of the land policy in the adoption of soil conservation technologies by farmers. This issue is of crucial importance in the region where population growth and growing market demands have induced farmers to intensify agricultural production. While poverty has been reduced, environmental problems such as soil erosion, landslides, and declining soil fertility have become more severe over the past years. Our findings suggest that despite farmers’ awareness of erosion, soil conservation technologies are perceived as being economically unattractive; therefore, most upland farmers continue to practice the prevailing erosion-prone cultivation system. Focusing on agroforestry as one major soil conservation option, we estimate household and plot level econometric models to empirically assess the determinants of adoption. We find that the possession of a formal land title positively influences adoption, but that the threat of land re-allocations in villages discourages adoption by creating uncertainty and tenure insecurity. The analyses reveal that these two effects interact with each other but are of small magnitude. We conclude that the issuance of land titles is a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite to encouraging the adoption of soil conservation practices. However, current practices...

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