June 10, 2020
Written by WID.world

Global Land Inequality

Global Land Inequality

Agricultural land is vital for three out of four of the poorest billion individuals in the world. Yet little is known about the distribution of agricultural land and global land inequality. Existing cross-country estimates of land inequality, based on agriculture census data, measure the size distribution of agricultural holdings. These reflect neither land ownership inequality nor value inequality. In addition, they often do not account for the landless population. In this working paper, Luis Bauluz, Yajna Govind and Filip Novokmet tackle these issues and provide novel and consistent estimates of land inequality across countries, based on household surveys.

Key results

  • Land-value inequality can differ significantly from land-area inequality.
  • Differences in the proportion of landless across countries vary substantially, affecting markedly inequality estimates.
  • Regional patterns in inequality according to our benchmark metric (land-value inequality including the landless) contradict existing estimates from agricultural censuses.
  • South Asia and Latin America exhibit the highest inequality with top 10% landowners capturing up to 75% of agricultural land, followed by Africa and ‘Communist’ Asia (China and Vietnam) at levels around 55-60%.

>> Click here to read the paper

Recommendations to tackle global land inequality

The authors stress the need for governments and international organizations to invest more in collecting more detailed and systematic information on agricultural land in household surveys, especially in countries where data is currently not available.


The figures below show the top 10% and the bottom 50% land shares under three definitions: (i) land-area inequality within landowners; (ii) land-value inequality within landowners; (iii) land-value inequality within landowners and landless households.







Media inquiries

  • Olivia Ronsain: olivia.ronsain@wid.world ; +33 7 63 91 81 68