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Land Reform as a Counterinsurgency Policy


  • Michael Albertus

    () (Department of Political Science, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA)

  • Oliver Kaplan

    (Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA)


Can targeted land reform reduce levels of civil war conflict by mitigating the factors that contribute to rural rebellion? This article uses new micro-level data on land reform and insurgency at the municipal level from Colombia from 1988 to 2000, a country with high rates of land inequality and informal land ownership, to test whether land reform undercut subsequent guerrilla activity. The reform had two distinct aspects. Politically powerful large landholders blocked most large-scale reform, which resulted primarily in an enduring, low-intensity, and geographically dispersed reform that spurred low levels of insurgent activity. Larger-scale reforms were only implemented in areas that threatened serious violence and had the potential to harm elite interests, and in these limited areas reform reduced guerrilla activity. This suggests that while land reform can be an effective counterinsurgency policy, it may be politically difficult to implement at a sufficient scale because it threatens the status quo.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Albertus & Oliver Kaplan, 2013. "Land Reform as a Counterinsurgency Policy," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 57(2), pages 198-231, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jocore:v:57:y:2013:i:2:p:198-231

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    Cited by:

    1. Mendola, Mariapia & Simtowe, Franklin, 2015. "The Welfare Impact of Land Redistribution: Evidence from a Quasi-Experimental Initiative in Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 53-69.
    2. Castro-Nunez, Augusto & Mertz, Ole & Quintero, Marcela, 2016. "Propensity of farmers to conserve forest within REDD+ projects in areas affected by armed-conflict," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 22-30.
    3. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:82-103 is not listed on IDEAS


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