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After 10 Years of Criticism: What is Left of de Soto’s Ideas?


FIG Article of the Month - August 2012: After 10 Years of Criticism: What is Left of de Soto’s Ideas? by Paul van der Molen


In 2000 Hernando de Soto published his book The Mystery of Capital. In this book he advocates that politicians take measures to provide the informal sector with access to the formal economy by the granting formal property rights and to break down bureaucratic barriers. The book has been influential. As if before 2000 nothing was published on property rights, titling and development, de Soto was invited by governments and international organizations to convey his new message. Bill Clinton called him 'the greatest living economist' (World Urban Forum, Davos). Since the publication of the book, criticism poured in. Especially the academia sought publicity to render scientific evidence that de Soto’s solution will not work, such as 'de Soto's solution not for South Africa' (B. Cousins), ‘The De Soto Delusion’ (Gravois) or 'The wrong prescription for the wrong malady' (Bromley) to name a few. This paper aims at collecting the critical remarks published since 2000 and at analyzing whether the ideas of de Soto still stand today.



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