Utilization of property among African American heir and titled landowners in Alabama’s Black Belt

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

The Review of Black Political Economy

Publication Date


Date Added



Much of the literature on heir property, or land held in common by heirs without the benefit of a will, deals with its widespread existence, consequences, and problems associated with it in the Southern Black Belt. Little is known about the uses of this property compared with titled property among African American landowners. We address this research gap by using survey data to examine uses of heir and titled properties among African Americans landowners in rural Alabama. Findings indicate that majority of the titled landowners used their land more productively and invest more money in their land than do heir property owners. There is also a higher financial value for titled land than heir property. Heir property owners take more of a short-term and limited financial investment plan that includes annual production of crops and livestock, as well as leases for hunting. Titled property owners, however, take a long-term plan for their land that includes timber, investments in buildings and land, and participation in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs.


Economic Advancement




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