Member Publication: Mobilizing for Entitlement: A Randomised Evaluation of a Homestead Land Rights Initiative in Bihar, India

Please check out the recent publication by OOW members Andre Nickow and Sanjay Kumar. “Mobilizing for Entitlement: A Randomised Evaluation of a Homestead Land Rights Initiative in Bihar, India.” Journal of Development Studies (2020): 1-25.


Across much of India, potentially transformative development programs are hampered by barriers to implementation. A case in point is Bihar, a province of over 100 million inhabitants, where state law guarantees each otherwise landless rural household the right to hold title over a plot of homestead land. Yet most eligible Scheduled Caste (SC) households remain untitled. This article studies a social accountability program that established, trained, and mobilised village-level community-based organisations to assist SC households in obtaining homestead title. The study employs a mixed methods design in which a survey-based field experiment estimates program impact while analysis of data from qualitative fieldwork documents ground-level processes. Results indicate that the program strongly increased land security and access to government entitlements, moderately increased asset ownership and homestead satisfaction, and had a weak positive effect on food security. However, the main impact estimates do not show statistically significant treatment effects on investment in dwellings or homestead -based livelihood activities. The qualitative analysis suggests that a key mechanism by which the program improved entitlement access was enabling target households to circumvent rent-seeking intermediaries. Results contribute to development studies research on social accountability, government service delivery, and land rights.

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