Submissions Accepted for Presentation at the World Bank Land Conference 2024

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Session Overview
01-10: Determinants and impacts of redistributive land reform
Thursday, 16/May/2024:
10:30am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Deon Filmer, World Bank, United States of America
Location: MC 13-121

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Land Concentration and Long-Run Development in the Frontier United States

Cory Smith

University of Maryland, United States of America

I study the long-run economic effects of land concentration on the American frontier. Using quasi-random variation in initial land allocations from a checkerboard formula, I analyze a large database of property assessments and find that historical concentration reduced modern land values by 4.5% and fixed capital by 23%. Modern effect sizes are 23%-64% of their historical equivalents, indicating significant rates of both persistence and convergence over the last 150 years. Using archival data on tenant contracts, I argue that the low-powered incentives of share agreements discouraged investment by large-scale owners with long-term effects.


Political competition and state capacity: evidence from a land allocation program in Mexico

Juan Felipe Riano

Georgetown University, United States of America

We develop a model of the politics of state capacity building undertaken by incumbent parties that have a comparative advantage in clientelism rather than in public goods provision. The model predicts that, when challenged by opponents, clientelistic incumbents have the incentive to prevent investments in state capacity. We provide empirical support for the model’s implications by studying policy decisions by the Institutional Revolutionary Party that affected local state capacity across Mexican municipalities and over time. Our difference-in-differences and instrumental variable identification strategies exploit a national shock that threatened the Mexican government’s hegemony in the early 1960s.


Harvesting votes: the electoral effects of the Italian land reform

Bruno Caprettini1, Lorenzo Casaburi2, Miriam Venturini3

1University of St. Gallen, Switzerland; 2University of Zurich, Switzerland; 3University of Zurich, Switzerland

Governments often implement large-scale redistribution policies to gain enduring political support. However, little is known on whether such policies generate sizable gains, whether these gains are persistent, and why. We study the political consequences of a major land reform in Italy. A panel spatial regression discontinuity design shows that the reform generated large electoral gains for the incumbent Christian Democratic party. The electoral effects persist over four decades. We explore several channels and find that clientelist brokering and patronage are plausible mechanisms for this persistence.


Tillers of prosperity: Land ownership, reallocation, and structural transformation

Shuhei Kitamura

Osaka University, Japan

This paper analyzes the role of land ownership in factor reallocation and structural transformation. Using a novel dataset, I show that the massive land reform enforced by the Allies after World War II, which redistributed the ownership of farmlands from landlords to tenants, led farmers to use more low-cost agricultural technologies when they became available and to rely less on family labor for production, resulting in an increase in the outmigration of the young population from rural to urban areas. A quantitative exercise using a two-sector neoclassical growth model indicates that the impact of the factor reallocation was considerable.


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