My research focuses on the implications of customary tenure systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, including for agricultural investment decisions and political behavior.

Job Market Paper

Decentralization of Land Governance and Election Behavior in Burkina Faso, Laura Meinzen-Dick

I study politicians' responses to the decentralization of land governance in Burkina Faso. To what extent are politicians motivated by private rents versus a concern with constituent welfare? I develop a theoretical model and test its implications using municipal elections during the experimental pilot phase of a land governance decentralization reform. I find that additional political parties contest elections in municipalities slated to receive pilot-phase local land offices, although voter turnout is lower than expected and elections do not become meaningfully more competitive. After implementation and documentation of land rights, both parties and voters behave similarly to their control municipality counterparts. By examining heterogeneity in political responses according to different tensions emerging from customary land rights systems, I argue that politicians are not only driven by their own private rents, but also demonstrate a policy-centric focus on constituent welfare. This speaks to a trade-off inherent in decentralization: despite potential efficiency gains and increased accountability to local citizens, more localized government could be more vulnerable to elite capture, so the motivations of those elites are important.

Working Papers

Customary Tenure and Agricultural Investment in Uganda, Laura Meinzen-Dick

Journal Publications

Replacing Iron-Folic Acid with Multiple Micronutrient Supplements among Pregnant Women: Costs, Impacts, and Cost-Effectiveness. Reina Engle-Stone, Sika M. Kumordzie, Laura Meinzen-Dick, and Steve Vosti. Annals of the New York Academy of Science. 2019 May, 1444(1).

Other Publications

The Gendered Nature of Land and Property Rights in Post-Reform Rwanda. Kelsey Jones-Casey, Laura Meinzen-Dick, and Alfred Bizoza. USAID LAND Project Report. 2014 May.

Graduate Student Researcher

Impact Evaluation of the Agriculture Cluster Development Project, World Bank/DIME, Michael Carter (UC Davis ARE), & Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda

Shifting from Iron-Folic Acid to Multiple Micronutrient Supplements: Cost, Benefit, and Cost-Effectiveness Estimates, Steve Vosti (UC Davis ARE) & Reina Engle-Stone (UC Davis Nutrition)

Associations between Market Characteristics and Child Health: Insights from the iLiNS Site in Burkina Faso, Steve Vosti (UC Davis ARE) & Jenni James (Crunch Pack)

The Nexus between Gender, Collective Action for Public Goods, and Agriculture: Evidence from Malawi, Nancy McCarthy (Lead Analytics) & Talip Kilic, World Bank