The fruit of inequality: wine, efficiency, agrarian contracts and property rights in Catalonia (1898-1935)
With the aim of drawing lessons that can act as a reference for reforms in today’s developing countries, economic historians are showing a renewed interest in the European experiences of agrarian reform. But in some developing countries property rights over the land show‘oddities’ with respect to the ‘Western canon’. Drawing on the case of Catalonia, this paper maintains that, if their work is to be useful, historians should be sensitive to the fact that in Europe – including the United Kingdom – oddities were not rare either. In Catalan vineyards, sharecropping contracts that granted the sharecropper ownership rights over the land were in widespread usage. Around 1900, sharecroppers’ rights became insecure, which led to several dysfunctions that the paper analyses.
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