What difference does legal title make? My question in this paper is to ask what difference the ‘gift’ of a title deed actually makes to the life of the poor? Does it permit them to borrow money from the formal sector as de Soto and the World Bank claim? Does it open up a new world of capital accumulation for the poor because it now allows property to be transferred legally from one ‘owner’ to another? Or, does it in fact make so little difference that the whole argument about legalisation is a sham?
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