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The Productivity Impacts of de Jure and de Facto Land Rights

Bellemare, Marc F. (2010): The Productivity Impacts of de Jure and de Facto Land Rights.

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Abstract

There is an important literature on the causal relationship between the quality of institutions and macroeconomic performance. This paper studies this link at the micro level by looking at the productivity impacts of land rights. Whereas previous studies used proxies for soil quality and instruments to control for the endogeneity of land titles, the data used here include precise measures of soil quality, which allow controlling for both the heterogeneity between plots and the endogeneity of land titles. Results indicate that de jure rights (i.e., titles) have no impact on productivity and de facto rights have heterogeneous productivity impacts. Productivity is higher for plots on which landowners report having the right to plant trees, but lower for plots on which landowners report having the right to build a tomb and the right to lease out. Moreover, while the right to lease out increases both the likelihood that the landowner has the intention to seek a title for her plot and her willingness to pay to do so, whether her children will enjoy similar rights on the plot has the opposite effect.

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