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Land restitution and selective violence: Evidence from Colombia


  • Lucas Marín Llanes
  • Mauricio Velásquez
  • María Alejandra Vélez


Designing victims' reparation policies and solving agrarian disputes are fundamental aspects to build peace after a civil conflict. In 2014, a ceasefire with the oldest Latin-American guerrilla took place in Colombia and a peace agreement was signed in 2016. The Land Restitution Policy (LRP) oriented to restore property rights of forcibly displaced victims was one of the peacebuilding and victims' reparation policies. In this paper, we explored the effect of the LRP on violence against social leaders. These actors represent the interests of their communities, oppose the expansion of illicit activities in their territories and are guarantors of informal property rights in most of Colombian rural areas. In this article we determined whether or not a comprehensive intervention, such as the LRP, had community spillover effects in social leaders' exposure to violence. We showed that the LRP significantly reduced the killing of social leaders. Yet, the effect depends on both the intensity of the policy's implementation and its interaction with improved territorial security conditions. Our results suggested a reduced rate of killing of social leaders in municipalities in which LRP was more intense (measured by the number of active processes registered in the program) after the ceasefire with the FARC. In absence of the LRP, after the ceasefire with FARC, the rate of killing of social leaders would have been 1.8 times higher. We explained our findings by an improvement of socioeconomic conditions, an increase in trust within beneficiaries' communities, and the design of a security intelligence mechanism implemented within the policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucas Marín Llanes & Mauricio Velásquez & María Alejandra Vélez, 2022. "Land restitution and selective violence: Evidence from Colombia," Documentos CEDE 020144, Universidad de los Andes – Facultad de Economía – CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:020144

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francesco Bogliacino & Gianluca Grimalda & Laura Jiménez & Daniel Reyes Galvis & Cristiano Codagnone, 2022. "Trust and trustworthiness after a land restitution program: lab-in-the-field evidence from Colombia," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 135-161, June.
    2. Thiemo Fetzer & Samuel Marden, 2017. "Take What You Can: Property Rights, Contestability and Conflict," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(601), pages 757-783, May.
    3. Mounu Prem & Andrés F. Rivera & Dario A. Romero & Juan F. Vargas, 2022. "Selective Civilian Targeting: The Unintended Consequences of Partial Peace," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 17(3), pages 317-354, July.
    4. Melissa Dell, 2015. "Trafficking Networks and the Mexican Drug War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(6), pages 1738-1779, June.
    5. Maria Paula Saffon & Fabio Sánchez, 2019. "Historical grievances and war dynamics: Old land conflicts as a cause of current forced displacements in Colombia," Documentos CEDE 017320, Universidad de los Andes – Facultad de Economía – CEDE.
    6. Lee J. Alston & Edwyna Harris & Bernardo Mueller, 2009. "De Facto and De Jure Property Rights: Land Settlement and Land Conflict on the Australian, Brazilian and U.S. Frontiers," CEPR Discussion Papers 607, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    7. Goodman-Bacon, Andrew, 2021. "Difference-in-differences with variation in treatment timing," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 225(2), pages 254-277.
    8. Callaway, Brantly & Sant’Anna, Pedro H.C., 2021. "Difference-in-Differences with multiple time periods," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 225(2), pages 200-230.
    9. Thiemo Fetzer & Samuel Marden, 2017. "Take What You Can: Property Rights, Contestability and Conflict," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(601), pages 757-783.
    10. Thiemo Fetzer, 2020. "Can Workfare Programs Moderate Conflict? Evidence from India," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 18(6), pages 3337-3375.
    11. Jorge H. Maldonado & Andrei Romero & Viviana León-Jurado, 2020. "La restitución de tierras y la estabilización socioeconómica de los hogares desplazados en Colombia ¿Cómo vamos?," Documentos CEDE 018361, Universidad de los Andes – Facultad de Economía – CEDE.
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    More about this item


    Land restitution; victims; armed conflict; peace agreement; selective violence;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment

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