There has long been an active debate in Haiti—as in many other developing countries— over whether or not the customary tenure system constrains technology adoption and agricultural development, and whether cadaster and land titling should be national priorities. This paper contributes to this debate by reviewing and interpreting the body of literature and new empirical evidence concerning the relationship between land tenure and the adoption of technology in rural Haiti. The findings suggest that (a) formal title is not necessarily more secure than informal arrangements, (b) informal arrangements based on traditional social capital resources assure affordable and flexible access to land for most people, and (c) perceived stability of access to land—via the stability of personal and social relationships—is a more important determinant of technology adoption than a mode of access. The paper concludes that there is no definitive relationship between tenure and technology adoption by peasants; peasants are preoccupied more by political and economic insecurity than insecure tenure; and rather than tinkering with formalizing tenure, policymakers should prioritize other more fundamental rural sector reforms. The paper ends by considering some of the implications for theory and suggests several avenues for future research on land policy.
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