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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. Macours, Karen & de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2004. "Insecurity of property rights and matching in the tenancy market," CUDARE Working Paper Series 0992, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bailey, Martin J, 1992. "Approximate Optimality of Aboriginal Property Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 183-98, April.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 518-29, October.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  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. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
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