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Returning to a Land of Opportunity? Effects of Land Restitution in Colombia


  • Naomi Crowther


Millions of people are internally displaced by wars and conflicts with wide-ranging adverse social and economic consequences. Yet, we still know very little about how they fare upon return to their homes. Colombia’s 50-year internal armed conflict resulted in the world’s highest number of internally displaced people. In this paper, we study the effects of a recently implemented law allowing displaced Colombians to apply to receive land restitution. Although everyone could apply for restitution immediately, the implementation of claims happened in a phased manner. Using agricultural census data coupled with geospatial location of formal land restitution, and individual level information on applications, we shed light on the effect of land restitution on three sets of outcomes: social integration, labour investments and market integration. Our results suggest restituted households are integrating into the community - they are more likely to be a member of an association, more likely to partake in reciprocal farm work and sell their produce. We also find evidence that in the short run, unlike the findings in the literature relating to land formalisation, restituted households are not more likely to hire permanent workers but instead increase the use of day workers and household members on their land.

Suggested Citation

  • Naomi Crowther, 2022. "Returning to a Land of Opportunity? Effects of Land Restitution in Colombia," CSAE Working Paper Series 2022-13, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2022-13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jose Ignacio Gimenez-Nadal & José Alberto Molina & Edgar Silva-Quintero, 2019. "On the Relationship between Violent Conflict and Wages in Colombia," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(4), pages 473-489, April.
    2. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2008. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 981-1022, December.
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    6. Ana María Ibáñez & Andrés Moya & Andrea Velásquez, 2022. "Promoting recovery and resilience for internally displaced persons: lessons from Colombia [‘Rural Windfall or a New Resource Curse? Coca, Income, and Civil Conflict in Colombia’]," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press and Oxford Review of Economic Policy Limited, vol. 38(3), pages 595-624.
    7. Eduardo Montero, 2022. "Cooperative Property Rights and Development: Evidence from Land Reform in El Salvador," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 130(1), pages 48-93.
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    9. Elsa Valli & Amber Peterman & Melissa Hidrobo, 2019. "Economic Transfers and Social Cohesion in a Refugee-Hosting Setting," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(S1), pages 128-146, December.
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    More about this item


    forced displacement; land restitution; conflict; Colombia;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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