Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Management and Policy

First Advisor

Dr. Geoffrey K. Turnbull - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Douglas S. Noonan - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Dr. Gregory B. Lewis - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Dr. H. Spencer Banzhaf - Committee Member

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Ragan Petrie - Committee Member


The dissertation explores how distinctive institutional factors related to property rights determine urban development patterns and housing tenure modalities in a developing economy context. The first part proposes a choice-theoretic model that explains the existence of the Antichresis contractual arrangement as a way to temporarily divide property rights. The model explains why the Antichresis contract dominates the Periodic-Rent contract in terms of landlord profits for certain types of property in which the gains in expected profits from solving the problem of adverse selection of tenants offset the loss of expected profits created by the moral hazard in landlords investments. The empirical section of the dissertation provides evidence in support of the model. Using data from Bolivia, I find that property types that require less landlord maintenance investment have higher capitalization rates under Antichresis contracts than they would under Monthly-Rent contracts and vice-versa. Additionally, the model shows that the Antichresis contract has limited capacity for helping the poor as suggested by recent literature. On the contrary, it can be hurtful for the poor in markets were landlords have limited information about tenants, in markets with inefficient court systems, or in markets with tenant-friendly regulations. The second part of the dissertation explores the issue of squatter settlements in the developing world. The theoretical model presented in this part explains how the landlord squatter strategies based on credible threats drive capital investment incentives and ultimately shape urban land development in areas with pervasive squatting. The model predicts that squatter settlements develop with higher structural densities than formal sector development. This prediction explains why property owners of housing that originated in squatter settlements take longer periods of time to upgrade than comparable property owners who built in the formal sector even after they receive titles to their property. The higher original structural density increases the marginal benefit of waiting in the redeveloping decision creating a legacy effect of high-density low-quality housing in these types of settlements. Geo-coded data from Cochabamba, Bolivia, support the hypotheses proposed by the theoretical model and raise questions about the unintended consequences of current policies affecting informal development.