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Politics and Economics of Land Reform in the Philippines: a survey

Fuwa, Nobuhiko (2000): Politics and Economics of Land Reform in the Philippines: a survey.


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The Philippines has long been known for its high inequality in distribution of wealth and income; unlike many of its Asian neighbors characterized by relatively less inequality by international standards, the Philippine economy has often been compared to Latin American countries which are characterized by high inequality in land distribution. Partly due to its historically high inequality there has long been intermittent incidence of peasant unrest and rural insurgencies in the Philippines. As a result, the issue of land reform (or ‘agrarian reform’ as more commonly called in the Philippines, of which land reform constitutes the major part) has continuously been on political agenda at least since the early part of the 20th century; nevertheless land reform in the Philippines has been, and still is, an unfinished business.

Against such a historical background, the main objective of this essay is to synthesize a broad range of existing literature on the various aspects of land reform policies in the Philippine context as relevant for today’s policy makers. The paper is meant as a stock taking exercise delineating what is known and what is not. We will pay attention to both political and economic issues arising from the land reform policies since both of these aspects are equally important for policy making. Furthermore, in our attempts to derive some lessons/implications for the current policy makers we will draw on both historical experiences in the Philippines and recent land reform experiences from other developing countries.

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