Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics (June 2011)


Published by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics. Copyright © [2011] Board of Regents, University of Nebraska.


Land is a critical input for agricultural production. At the same time, land has long been seen as a store of wealth, an asset that may be held for a wide range of purposes and that may account for a significant share of a nation’s resource stock. The way in which land is owned, used and transferred has varied over time and throughout the world. Laws and customs governing land ownership, use and transfer, are known as institutions, and are extremely important determinants of agricultural output. Insecurity of land ownership rights, for example, may reduce not only the incentive individual households have to make long-term land improvements, but also generate economic and social instability in people’s lives.

This is the first of a series of three Cornhusker Economics articles on the nature of land institutions around the world, and the implications of various institutional arrangements for agricultural development. The focus of this article is on a particular institutional change, the transition from collective land ownership by the state to private land markets in the countries of the Former Soviet Union (FSU): the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania); the Eastern European countries (Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine); the Caucasian countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia); and the Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan).