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Land Distribution, Incentives and the Choice of Production Techniques in Nicaragua


  • Bandiera, Oriana


The distribution of property rights has a strong impact on output when, due to the non-contractibility of some inputs, market contracts do not yield efficient outcomes. In this Paper I analyse how the distribution of land rights affects the choice of both contractible techniques – such as crop mix or irrigation – and non-contractible effort when these are complements in production. I present evidence from rural Nicaragua suggesting that farmers are more likely to grow effort-intensive/highly profitable crops on the plots they own rather than on the plots they rent. I consider two theoretical arguments that illustrate why property rights might matter. The first relies on the fact that the agent who chooses effort is subject to a limited liability constraint, the second that the owner cannot commit to output-contingent contracts. In both models the choice of technique might be inefficient, regardless of the distribution of property rights. The efficiency loss is, however, lower when the farmer owns the land. Further empirical investigation shows that, in this context, the inability to commit seems to be the main source of inefficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • Bandiera, Oriana, 2002. "Land Distribution, Incentives and the Choice of Production Techniques in Nicaragua," CEPR Discussion Papers 3141, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3141

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Current, D. & Lutz, E. & Scherr, S., 1995. "Costs, Benefits, and Farmer Adoption of Agroforestry. Project Experience in Central America and the Caribbean," Papers 14, World Bank - The World Bank Environment Paper.
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    5. Oriana Bandiera, 1999. "On the Structure of Tenancy contracts: Theory and Evidence fron 19th Century Rural Sicily," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 19, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luis H. B. Braido, 2008. "Evidence on the Incentive Properties of Share Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(2), pages 327-349, May.
    2. de Laiglesia, Juan R., 2005. "Investment and credit effects of land titling and registration:," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Kiel 2005 10, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.

    More about this item


    agricultural productivity; asymmetric information; crop choices;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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