IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The political economy of rural property rights and the persistence of the dual economy

  • Fergusson, Leopoldo

Rural areas often have more than one regime of property rights and production. Large, private-property farms owned by powerful landowners coexist with subsistence peasants who farm small plots with limited property rights. At the same time, there is broad consensus that individual, well-specified and secure property rights over land improve economic outcomes. If property rights in land are so beneficial, why are they not adopted more widely? I put forward a theory according to which politically powerful landowners choose weak property rights to impoverish peasants and force them to work for low wages. Moreover, because weak property rights force peasants to stay in the rural sector protecting their property, the incentives to establish poor property rights are especially salient when peasants can migrate to an alternative sector, such as when urban wages increase with industrialization.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 167-181

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:103:y:2013:i:c:p:167-181
DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2013.02.009
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Deininger, Klaus & Feder, Gershon, 2001. "Land institutions and land markets," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, in: B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 288-331 Elsevier.
  2. Deininger, Klaus & Binswanger, Hans, 1999. "The Evolution of the World Bank's Land Policy: Principles, Experience, and Future Challenges," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 14(2), pages 247-76, August.
  3. Fenske, James, 2011. "Land tenure and investment incentives: Evidence from West Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 137-156, July.
  4. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1999. "Information Accumulation in Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 5-38, March.
  5. Konstantin Sonin, 2003. "Why the Rich May Favor Poor Protection of Property Rights," Working Papers w0022, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  6. Bénabou, Roland, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1450, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Oded Galor & Omar Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2006. "Inequality in Land Ownership, the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_001, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  8. Kongsamut, Piyabha & Rebelo, Sérgio & Xie, Danyang, 1997. "Beyond Balanced Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1693, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Hanan G. Jacoby & Guo Li & Scott Rozelle, 2002. "Hazards of Expropriation: Tenure Insecurity and Investment in Rural China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1420-1447, December.
  10. Hornbeck, Richard A., 2010. "Barbed Wire: Property Rights and Agricultural Development," Scholarly Articles 11185832, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Brasselle, Anne-Sophie & Gaspart, Frederic & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2002. "Land tenure security and investment incentives: puzzling evidence from Burkina Faso," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 373-418, April.
  12. Daron Acemoglu, 2006. "Modeling Inefficient Institutions," NBER Working Papers 11940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2005. "Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 385-472 Elsevier.
  14. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2008. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 981-1022, December.
  15. Hans P. Binswanger & Klaus Deininger, 1997. "Explaining Agricultural and Agrarian Policies in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(4), pages 1958-2005, December.
  16. Binswanger, Hans P. & Deininger, Klaus, 1993. "South African land policy: The legacy of history and current options," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 21(9), pages 1451-1475, September.
  17. Binswanger, Hans P. & Deininger, Klaus & Feder, Gershon, 1995. "Power, distortions, revolt and reform in agricultural land relations," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 42, pages 2659-2772 Elsevier.
  18. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10091 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1998. "Information, the Dual Economy, and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(4), pages 631-653.
  20. Besley, Timothy J. & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2009. "Property Rights and Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 7243, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-37, October.
  22. Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve & García-Peñalosa, Cecilia, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Scholarly Articles 12502063, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  23. Antonia Diaz, 2000. "On the Political Economy of Latin American Land Reforms," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(3), pages 551-571, July.
  24. Tasso Adamopoulos, 2008. "Land Inequality and the Transition to Modern Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(2), pages 257-282, April.
  25. Erica Field, 2007. "Entitled to Work: Urban Property Rights and Labor Supply in Peru," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1561-1602.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:103:y:2013:i:c:p:167-181. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.