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Communal Land and Agricultural Productivity

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Abstract

This paper quantifies the aggregate impact of communal land tenure arrangements that prevail in Sub-Saharan Africa. Such tenure regimes limit land transferability by prohibiting sales, subjecting rented-out land to the risk of expropriation, and redistributing it to existing farmers in a progressive fashion. We use a general equilibrium two-sector selection model featuring agents heterogeneous in skills to compute the resulting occupational and operational choices as well as land allocations. The quantification of the model is based on policies deduced from Ethiopia. In the Sub-Saharan African context we find that such policies substantially dampen nominal agricultural relative to non-agricultural productivity, by 25%. Real relative agricultural productivity, however, only falls by 4% since cross-sectoral terms of trade adjust strongly, with excess agricultural employment only amounting to some 1.5 percentage points. The loss in GDP is small, about 2%. That serves as a reminder that ostensibly highly distortionary policies need not have substantial bite when individuals strategically adjust to them and equilibrium prices adapt. For example, the model predicts that at given prices 62% of farmers in an economy such as Ethiopia would leave farming if tenure were secured, casting land insecurity as a major obstacle. Yet only 9% would actually switch sectors after price adjustments are factored in.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Gottlieb & Jan Grobovsek, 2016. "Communal Land and Agricultural Productivity," ESE Discussion Papers 270, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:270
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Diego Restuccia & Tasso Adamopoulos, 2012. "Land Reform and Productivity: A Quantitative Analysis with Micro Data," 2012 Meeting Papers 1083, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Macours, Karen, 2002. "Insecurity Of Property Rights And Matching In The Tenancy Market," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19603, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    3. Douglas Gollin & Stephen L. Parente & Richard Rogerson, 2004. "Farm Work, Home Work, and International Productivity Differences," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(4), pages 827-850, October.
    4. Gollin, Douglas & Rogerson, Richard, 2014. "Productivity, transport costs and subsistence agriculture," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 38-48.
    5. Chaoran Chen, 2017. "Untitled Land, Occupational Choice, and Agricultural Productivity," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 91-121, October.
    6. Restuccia, Diego & Yang, Dennis Tao & Zhu, Xiaodong, 2008. "Agriculture and aggregate productivity: A quantitative cross-country analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 234-250, March.
    7. Deininger, Klaus & Jin, Songqing, 2006. "Tenure security and land-related investment: Evidence from Ethiopia," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 1245-1277, July.
    8. Sjaastad, Espen & Bromley, Daniel W., 1997. "Indigenous land rights in sub-Saharan Africa: Appropriation, security and investment demand," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 549-562, January.
    9. Bomuhangi, Allan & Doss, Cheryl & Meinzen-Dick, Ruth, 2011. "Who owns the land?: Perspectives from rural Ugandans and implications for land acquisitions," IFPRI discussion papers 1136, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    10. Daniel Ayalew Ali & Stefan Dercon & Madhur Gautam, 2011. "Property rights in a very poor country: tenure insecurity and investment in Ethiopia," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 42(1), pages 75-86, January.
    11. Deininger, Klaus & Ali, Daniel Ayalew & Holden, Stein & Zevenbergen, Jaap, 2008. "Rural Land Certification in Ethiopia: Process, Initial Impact, and Implications for Other African Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1786-1812, October.
    12. Vollrath, Dietrich, 2009. "How important are dual economy effects for aggregate productivity?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 325-334, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raul Santaeulalia-Llopis & Diego Restuccia, 2014. "Land Misallocation and Productivity," 2014 Meeting Papers 1314, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Chaoran Chen & Diego Restuccia & Raül Santaeulàlia-Llopis, 2017. "The Effects of Land Markets on Resource Allocation and Agricultural Productivity," Working Papers 1011, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    3. Tasso Adamopoulos & Loren Brandt & Jessica Leight & Diego Restuccia, 2017. "Misallocation, Selection and Productivity: A Quantitative Analysis with Panel Data from China," Working Papers tecipa-593, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    4. Chaoran Chen, 2017. "Technology Adoption, Capital Deepening, and International Productivity Differences," Working Papers tecipa-584, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    5. Emran, M. Shahe & Shilpi, Forhad, 2015. "Do Land Market Restrictions Hinder Structural Change in a Rural Economy? Evidence from Sri Lanka," MPRA Paper 66017, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agricultural Productivity; Growth and Development; Misallocation; Land;

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • 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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