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The Political Economy of Debt Bondage

Author

Listed:
  • Ulf von Lilienfeld-Toal
  • Dilip Mookherjee

Abstract

What are the effects of restricting bonded labor clauses in tenancy or debt contracts? While such restrictions reduce agents' ability to credibly commit ex ante to repay principals in states where they default on their financial obligations, they also generate a pecuniary externality on other principal-agent pairs by reducing the equilibrium profit earned by principals. This turns out to imply that on both political and normative grounds, restrictions on bonded labor become more attractive when borrowers become wealthier or the range of collateral instruments widens. (JEL D82, D86, J82, K12)

Suggested Citation

  • Ulf von Lilienfeld-Toal & Dilip Mookherjee, 2010. "The Political Economy of Debt Bondage," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 44-84, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:44-84
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.2.3.44
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Genicot, Garance & Ray, Debraj, 2006. "Bargaining power and enforcement in credit markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 398-412, April.
    2. Dam Kaniska & Perez-Castrillo David, 2006. "The Principal-Agent Matching Market," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-34, August.
    3. Genicot, Garance, 2002. "Bonded labor and serfdom: a paradox of voluntary choice," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 101-127, February.
    4. Lester, V. Markham, 1995. "Victorian Insolvency: Bankruptcy, Imprisonment for Debt, and Company Winding-up in Nineteenth-Century England," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198205180.
    5. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1997. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds, and The Real Sector," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 663-691.
    6. Kaushik Basu, 2003. "The Economics and Law of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 141-157, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bond, Philip & Newman, Andrew F., 2009. "Prohibitions on punishments in private contracts," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 526-540, October.
    2. Michael Clemens, 2017. "Testing for Repugnance in Economic Transactions: Evidence from Guest Work in the Gulf," Working Papers 463, Center for Global Development.
    3. repec:wly:iecrev:v:59:y:2018:i:2:p:593-623 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Aney, Madhav & Ghatak, Maitreesh & Morelli, Massimo, 2011. "Can Market Failure Cause Political Failure," CEPR Discussion Papers 8533, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Besley, Timothy & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2009. "The de Soto effect," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 25429, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Kartik Athreya & Juan M. Sánchez & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2018. "Bankruptcy And Delinquency In A Model Of Unsecured Debt," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(2), pages 593-623, May.
    7. Kartik Athreya, 2012. "A Model of Credit Card Delinquency," 2012 Meeting Papers 981, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Suresh Naidu & Yaw Nyarko & Shing-Yi Wang, 2014. "Worker Mobility in a Global Labor Market: Evidence from the United Arab Emirates," NBER Working Papers 20388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Suresh Naidu & Noam Yuchtman, 2011. "Coercive Contract Enforcement: Law and the Labor Market in 19th Century Industrial Britain," NBER Working Papers 17051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Suresh Naidu & Yaw Nyarko & Shing-Yi Wang, 2016. "Monopsony Power in Migrant Labor Markets: Evidence from the United Arab Emirates," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(6), pages 1735-1792.
    11. Naidu, Suresh & Yuchtman, Noam, 2013. "Coercive contract enforcement: law and the labor market in nineteenth century industrial Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 91505, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • J82 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Labor Force Composition
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law

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