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The Cost of Property Rights: Establishing Institutions on the Philippine Frontier Under American Rule, 1898-1918

  • Lakshmi Iyer

    ()

    (Harvard Business School, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit)

  • Noel Maurer

    ()

    (Harvard Business School, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit)

We examine three reforms to property rights introduced by the United States in the Philippines in the early 20th century: the redistribution of large estates to their tenants, the creation of a system of secure land titles, and a homestead program to encourage cultivation of public lands. During the first phase of American occupation (1898-1918), we find that the implementation of these reforms was very slow. As a consequence, tenure insecurity increased over this period, and the distribution of farm sizes remained extremely unequal. We identify two primary causes for the slow progress of reform. The first was the high cost of implementing these programs, together with political constraints which prevented the government from subsidizing land reforms to a greater degree. The second was the reluctance of the government to evict delinquent or informal cultivators, especially on public lands, which reduced the costs of tenure insecurity.

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File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/09-023.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2009
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Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 09-023.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision: Apr 2009
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:09-023
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  1. Lee, Eddy, 1979. "Egalitarian peasant farming and rural development: The case of South Korea," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 7(4-5), pages 493-517.
  2. Daniel Berkowitz & Karina Pistor & Jean-Francois Richard, 2001. "Economic Development, Legality, and the Transplant Effect," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 410, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
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  9. Quy-Toan Do & Lakshmi Iyer, 2008. "Land Titling and Rural Transition in Vietnam," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 531-579.
  10. Haber, Stephen & Maurer, Noel & Razo, Armando, 2003. "When the Law Does Not Matter: The Rise and Decline of the Mexican Oil Industry," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(01), pages 1-32, 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. Daniel Berkowitz & Karen Clay, 2003. "Initial Conditions, Institutional Dynamics and Economic Performance: Evidence from the American States," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-615, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  13. Clay, Karen B., 1999. "Property Rights and Institutions: Congress and the California Land Act 1851," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(01), pages 122-142, March.
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  15. Croix, Sumner J. La & Roumasset, James, 1990. "The Evolution of Private Property in Nineteenth-Century Hawaii," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(04), pages 829-852, December.
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