Land ownership and possession of titles are linked to migration outcomes

What about the links between migration and land-related policies (land reform and land titles)? In 1992 the Georgian government launched a reform of agricultural land in the country. From 1992 to 1995, the state transferred very small parcels of land to most of the population living in Georgia, including rural and urban regions, regardless of whether they had been engaged in agriculture before. Overall, 760 000 hectares of land was transferred, with up to 1.25 hectares provided to individuals engaged in agriculture and up to 5 hectares for those living in mountainous areas. very small parcels were provided to those not already engaged in agriculture. The state then gradually opened the agricultural land market, although continued to lease land to households that were not able to obtain land during the reform10 (EPRC, 2013).

There were 195 households that benefited from land reform in the survey. A similar regression model to the one presented in Box 5.4 was run, controlling for whether the household owns agricultural land or not (Table 5.8). This suggests that households that have benefited from land reform are less likely to receive remittances - perhaps acquiring agricultural land has helped increase income and reduced the need for remittances.

In 1999, the Georgian government began issuing land registrations and continued doing so until 2008, while a formal land cadastre system was developed. However, the issuance of certificates has been problematic, and a study finds that only 20 to 30% of agricultural land transferred under reform had been registered by 2013 (EPRC, 2013). Households that have the official titles to their land may find it easier to use it for financial leverage or to sell it, potentially affecting migration outcomes. In many developing countries, access to land is often contingent on its use. Research suggests that delinking land rights from land use can increase emigration, as household members do not have to use the land productively in order to retain ownership. They are free to leave it fallow or rent it out without risking losing it. In Mexico, for example, households that had obtained certificates through the Mexican land certification programme, rolled out from 1993 to 2006, were found to be 28% more likely to have a migrant member (de Janvry et al., 2014). Regression analysis confirmed that households with land titles were more likely to have members planning to emigrate (Table 5.8).

Table 5.8. Acquiring land through reform can reduce the need for remittances

Results from regression estimations on land reform and titling

Dependent variable: Migration outcomes

Main variables of interest: Household acquired land through reform/household has the land title for their land Type of model: Probit Sample: Agricultural households

Dependent variables

Variables of interest


Household has a member planning to emigrate


Household has a member leave within 5 years




remittances in the past 12 months


Household has had a member return in the past 5 years (amongst migrant households)


Household has a return migrant planning to re-migrate

Household acquired land through












Number of observations






Household has the land title for






their land






Number of observations






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