IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Long-Run Impacts of Land Regulation: Evidence from Tenancy Reform in India


  • Besley, Timothy J.
  • Leight, Jessica
  • Pande, Rohini
  • Rao, Vijayendra


Agricultural tenancy reforms have been widely enacted, but evidence on their long-run impact remains limited. In this paper, we provide such evidence by exploiting the quasi-random assignment of linguistically similar areas to different South Indian states that subsequently varied in tenancy regulation policies. Given imperfect credit markets, the impact of tenancy reform should vary by household wealth status, allowing us to exploit historic caste-based variation in landownership. Thirty years after the reforms, land inequality is lower in areas that saw greater intensity of tenancy reform, but the impact differs across caste groups. Tenancy reforms increase own-cultivation among middle-caste households, but render low-caste households more likely to work as daily agricultural laborers. At the same time, agricultural wages increase. These results are consistent with tenancy regulations increasing land sales to relatively richer and more productive middle-caste tenants, but reducing land access for poorer low-caste tenants.

Suggested Citation

  • Besley, Timothy J. & Leight, Jessica & Pande, Rohini & Rao, Vijayendra, 2015. "Long-Run Impacts of Land Regulation: Evidence from Tenancy Reform in India," CEPR Discussion Papers 10780, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10780

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lori Beaman & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo & Rohini Pande & Petia Topalova, 2009. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1497-1540.
    2. Belser, Patrick. & Rani, Uma., 2010. "Extending the coverage of minimum wages in India : simulations from household data," ILO Working Papers 994584553402676, International Labour Organization.
    3. 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 247-276, August.
    4. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2008. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 414-427, August.
    5. repec:ilo:ilowps:458455 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
    7. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2000. "Land Reform, Poverty Reduction, and Growth: Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 389-430.
    8. Bardhan, Pranab & Luca, Michael & Mookherjee, Dilip & Pino, Francisco, 2014. "Evolution of land distribution in West Bengal 1967–2004: Role of land reform and demographic changes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 171-190.
    9. 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.
    10. Conning, Jonathan H. & Robinson, James A., 2007. "Property rights and the political organization of agriculture," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 416-447, March.
    11. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Paul J. Gertler & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2002. "Empowerment and Efficiency: Tenancy Reform in West Bengal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 239-280, April.
    12. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    13. Mearns, Robin, 1999. "Access to land in rural India - policy issues and options," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2123, The World Bank.
    14. Maitreesh Ghatak & Sanchari Roy, 2007. "Land reform and agricultural productivity in India: a review of the evidence," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 251-269, Summer.
    15. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2010. "Divide and Rule or the Rule of the Divided? Evidence from Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 8088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
    17. Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee, 2010. "Determinants of Redistributive Politics: An Empirical Analysis of Land Reforms in West Bengal, India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1572-1600, September.
    18. N. Jayaram & Surendra K. Gupta & A.P. Barnabas & Sachchidananda & P.S. Pachauri & M.L. Khattar & B.N. Sampath & H. R. Khanna, 1985. "India," India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs, , vol. 41(1), pages 177-179, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Deininger, Klaus & Jin, Songqing & Liu, Yanyan & Singh, Sudhir K., 2016. "Can labor market imperfections explain changes in the inverse farm size-productivity relationship?: Longitudinal evidence from rural India:," IFPRI discussion papers 1538, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Sonia Bhalotra & Abhishek Chakravarty & Dilip Mookherjee & Francisco J. Pino, "undated". "Property Rights and Gender Bias: Evidence from Land Reform in West Bengal," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-281, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    3. Klaus Deininger & Songqing Jin & Yanyan Liu & Sudhir K Singh, 2016. "Can Labor Market Imperfections Explain Changes in the Inverse Farm Size–Productivity Relationship? Longitudinal Evidence from Rural India," Working Papers id:10987, eSocialSciences.
    4. Camila Uribe Mejía, 2014. "Bancarización y Empoderamiento Femenino," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 011001, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    5. Jean-Paul Faguet & Fabio Sánchez & Marta-Juanita Villaveces, 2015. "Land Reform, Latifundia and Social Development at Local Level in Colombia, 1961-2010," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 012569, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    6. repec:spr:blkpoe:v:44:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s12114-017-9262-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Kualwik, Jacek, 0. "Selected problems of farmland valuation and setting rents for its lease," Problems of Agricultural Economics, Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics - National Research Institute (IAFE-NRI).
    8. IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute, 2016. "Can Labour Market Imperfections Explain Changes in the Inverse Farm Size-Productivity Relationship?: Longitudinal Evidence from Rural India," Working Papers id:11007, eSocialSciences.
    9. repec:eee:wdevel:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:255-267 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    inequality; Land reform; long-run impact of institutions;

    JEL classification:

    • H73 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10780. 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: (). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.