Evidence on the Incentive Properties of Share Contracts
Ever since Adam Smith, share contracts have been condemned for their lack of incentives. Sharecropping tenants face incentives to undersupply productive inputs since they receive only a fraction of the marginal revenue. The empirical literature reports that lands under sharecropping are less productive and employ inputs less intensively than those operated by owners. This paper shows that: (i) share contracts are also associated with lower-quality lands; (ii) the sharecroppers' input choices satisfy profit-maximization conditions; and (iii) the contract form does not affect farm productivity conditional on land quality and input use. These findings suggest that farmers optimally choose to employ inputs less intensively in lower-quality lands under sharecropping and, then, these lands end up being less productive. Land- quality selection bias (as opposite to incentives) seems to be behind the existing evidence on the productive disadvantage of share contracts.
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