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This paper develops a theoretical framework in which the borrower, who mortgages out, and the lender, who mortgages in, a parcel of land reach their decisions when credit and land markets function imperfectly. The results cover what conditions and factors govern the decision to contract in the first place, and when and whether to repay or agree to a sale. The empirical investigation deals with such contracting in Orissa, based on a panel household survey over the period 2000–2013. Almost 20 percent had contracts in 2013, the borrowers’ chief need being to marry off a daughter, followed by coping with serious illness and bad harvests. The sums were quite large, indicating that these contracts offered the parties opportunities beyond those available through other forms of credit transactions. Mortgaging also appeared to promote the transfer of ownership rights from relatively land-rich to land-poor households.

Magnus Hatlebakk

Senior Researcher; Coordinator: Poverty Dynamics