Measuring Institutions: Indicators of Political and Property Rights in Malawi

Johannes Fedderke, Julia Garlick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This paper constructs a new set of institutional indicators for Malawi. We develop indicators of political rights, of freehold, traditional (communitarian) and intellectual property rights, based on the Malawian legislative framework. In exploring the association between our rights measures and a range of indicators of socio-economic development, we obtain limited support for a modernization process for Malawi. On the one hand, the association between the rights variables can be interpreted as a modernization nexus, with a trade-off between legally anchored private property freehold rights and political rights on the one hand, and traditional forms of communal property rights on the other. By contrast, the association between rights and a range of socioeconomic development indicators gives a more nuanced picture. For social development measures property rights measures exercise a positive impact, regardless of whether they take the form of freehold or communitarian property rights. Economic development measures respond positively only to the freehold measure, and negatively to communitarian property rights. The socioeconomic development measures are negatively associated with political rights in Malawi over the last 40 years of the twentieth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-521
Number of pages31
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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