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Property Rights, Land Conflict and Tenancy in Brazil

  • Lee J. Alston
  • Bernardo Mueller

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15771.

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Date of creation: Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15771
Note: DAE EEE LE POL
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  1. Jonathan Conning & James A. Robinson, 2005. "Property Rights and the Political Organization of Agriculture," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 405, Hunter College Department of Economics.
  2. Carter, Michael R. & Olinto, Pedro, 2000. "Getting Institutions 'Right' for Whom: Credit Constraints and the Impact of Property Rights on the Quantity and Compostiton of Investment," Staff Paper Series 433, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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  6. 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.
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  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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  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," NBER Working Papers 15264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Bailey, Martin J, 1992. "Approximate Optimality of Aboriginal Property Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 183-98, April.
  14. 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.
  15. 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 903-37, October.
  16. 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 1121-33, December.
  17. 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.
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