From the President

Gregory K. Ingram, April 1, 2006

The core competence of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is the analysis of issues related to land, and ours is one of the few organizations in the world with this focus.

The Institute’s current work program, both in the United States and in selected countries around the world, encompasses the taxation of land, the operation of land markets, the regulation of land and land use, the impacts of property rights, and the distribution of benefits from land development. This focus on land derives from the Institute’s founding objective—to address the links between land policy and social and economic progress—as expressed by Henry George, the nineteenth-century political economist and social philosopher.

The Institute plays a leading role in the analysis of land and property taxation, land valuation and appraisal, the design of land information and cadastral systems, and the reform and establishment of property tax systems. Work on the operation of land markets includes the analysis of transit-oriented development and research on urban housing and the expansion of urban areas. The regulation of land encompasses work on smart growth and growth management, visualizing density and the physical impact of development, mediating land use disputes, land conservation, and the management of state trust lands in the West. Analysis of property rights includes research on diverse topics including informal markets and land titling in developing countries, the establishment of conservation easements, and the preservation of farmland. Much work is underway on the distribution of benefits from land development, including value capture taxation, tax increment financing, university-led development, and community land trusts that seek to promote affordable housing.

While the Institute’s work in recent years has emphasized urban land issues, it has also addressed problems beyond urban boundaries such as conservation, management of state trust lands, and farmland preservation. A balance of activities across urban and rural topics will persist as the Institute’s work program continues to focus on land issues of relevance to social and economic development. The Institute will not normally address topics that lack a strong link to land policy.

Communicating new findings through education programs, publications, and Web-based products is a core Institute activity. The overarching objective is to strengthen the capacity of public officials, professionals, and citizens to make better decisions by providing them with relevant information, ideas, methods, and analytic tools. The Institute offers traditional courses and seminars, and is moving aggressively to make many of its offerings available on the Web as either programmed instruction or as online courses with real-time interactions between students and instructors. The Institute also develops training materials and makes them available to others, for example through activities in several developing countries that involve the training of trainers in topics such as appraisal and tax administration.

Research strengthens the Institute’s training programs and contributes to knowledge about land policy generally. The Institute supports both mature scholars who conduct groundbreaking research and advanced students who are working on their dissertations or thesis research. The Institute offers several fellowship programs and other opportunities for researchers to propose work on important topics that can contribute to current debates on land policy. The results of this research are regularly posted on the Institute Web site as working papers and are published in books, conference proceedings, and policy focus reports.

Demonstration and evaluation activities constitute the third major component of the Institute’s agenda. Recently the Institute has begun to combine education, training, research, and dissemination in demonstration projects that apply knowledge, data collection, and analysis to the development and implementation of specific policies in the areas of property taxation, planning, and development. These projects are being expanded to include the analysis of policies as they are applied, and to assess and evaluate outcomes in terms of the intended objectives of the policies. The goal is to provide more rigorous evidence about how well and in what circumstances specific land and tax policies achieve their objectives so that information can be incorporated into future research and training programs.