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Property Rights, Land Conflict and Tenancy in Brazil

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  • Lee J. Alston
  • Bernardo Mueller

Abstract

Tenancy has been a means for labor to advance their socio-economic condition in agriculture yet in Brazil and Latin America, tenancy rates are low compared to the U.S. and the OECD countries. We test for the importance of insecure property rights in Brazil on the reluctance of landowners to rent because of a fear of expropriation arising from land reform. Since 1964, the Land Statute in Brazil has targeted rental lands for redistribution. The expropriation of farms, resulting from land conflicts, is currently at the heart of land reform policies in Brazil. Land conflicts are a means for landless peasants to bring attention to land reform agencies for the need for redistribution. Land conflicts may also signal to landowners that their land is at risk for expropriation. Utilizing data across all counties in Brazil, we found that land conflicts reduce the likelihood of tenancy. This result implies: a reduction in agricultural efficiency; a reduction in the well-being of potential tenants, now landless peasants; and an expansion of the agricultural frontier through deforestation. Because of endogeneity between land tenancy and land conflict we instrument land conflict with Catholic priests.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee J. Alston & Bernardo Mueller, 2010. "Property Rights, Land Conflict and Tenancy in Brazil," NBER Working Papers 15771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15771
    Note: DAE EEE LE POL
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alston, Lee J & Datta, Samar K & Nugent, Jeffrey B, 1984. "Tenancy Choice in a Competitive Framework with Transactions Costs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1121-1133, December.
    2. Alston, Lee J. & Libecap, Gary D. & Mueller, Bernardo, 1999. "A model of rural conflict: violence and land reform policy in Brazil," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 135-160, May.
    3. Alston, Lee J. & Kauffman, Kyle D., 1997. "Agricultural Chutes and Ladders: New Estimates of Sharecroppers and “True Tenants” in the South, 1900–1920," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(02), pages 464-475, June.
    4. Bailey, Martin J, 1992. "Approximate Optimality of Aboriginal Property Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 183-198, April.
    5. Peter Murrell, 1983. "The Economics of Sharing: A Transactions Costs Analysis of Contractual Choice in Farming," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(1), pages 283-293, Spring.
    6. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-529, October.
    7. 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.
    8. Michael R. Carter & Pedro Olinto, 2003. "Getting Institutions “Right” for Whom? Credit Constraints and the Impact of Property Rights on the Quantity and Composition of Investment," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(1), pages 173-186.
    9. Alston, Lee J. & Ferrie, Joseph P., 2005. "Time on the Ladder: Career Mobility in Agriculture, 1890 1938," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 1058-1081, December.
    10. Macours, Karen, 2002. "Insecurity of Property Rights and Matching in the Tenancy Market," 2002 International Congress, August 28-31, 2002, Zaragoza, Spain 24931, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    11. Alston, Lee J. & Libecap, Gary D. & Mueller, Bernardo, 2000. "Land Reform Policies, the Sources of Violent Conflict, and Implications for Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 162-188, March.
    12. Lee J. Alston & Edwyna Harris & Bernardo Mueller, 2009. "De Facto and De Jure Property Rights: Land Settlement and Land Conflict on the Australian, Brazilian and U.S. Frontiers," CEPR Discussion Papers 607, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    13. Deininger, Klaus & Feder, Gershon, 2001. "Land institutions and land markets," Handbook of Agricultural Economics,in: B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 288-331 Elsevier.
    14. Alston, Lee J. & Higgs, Robert, 1982. "Contractual Mix in Southern Agriculture since the Civil War: Facts, Hypotheses, and Tests," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(02), pages 327-353, June.
    15. F. Place & K. Otsuka, 2002. "Land Tenure Systems and Their Impacts on Agricultural Investments and Productivity in Uganda," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(6), pages 105-128.
    16. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-937, October.
    17. Allen, Douglas & Lueck, Dean, 1992. "Contract Choice in Modern Agriculture: Cash Rent versus Cropshare," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 397-426, October.
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    Citations

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    1. repec:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:30-57 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Lee J. Alston & Gary D. Libecap & Bernardo Mueller, 2010. "Interest Groups, Information Manipulation in the Media, and Public Policy: The Case of the Landless Peasants Movement in Brazil," NBER Working Papers 15865, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lee Lane & W. Montgomery, 2014. "An institutional critique of new climate scenarios," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 447-458, February.
    4. Ariaster B. Chimeli & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2017. "The Use of Violence in Illegal Markets: Evidence from Mahogany Trade in the Brazilian Amazon," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 30-57, October.
    5. repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-95 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Lee J. Alston & Bernardo Mueller, 2011. "Brazilian Development: This Time for Real?," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(1), pages 37-46, March.
    7. Grainger, Corbett A. & Costello, Christopher J., 2014. "Capitalizing property rights insecurity in natural resource assets," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 224-240.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy

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