Land Tenure and Development: The Need for Safety Nets

Recent literature on land tenure suggests that tenancy can be an efficient contractual arrangement and that small farms-but not necessanly owner-operated farms-fac1htate a more rapid and labour-mtens1ve development. Such conclus1ons argue for policies that prevent price distortions and emphasize income-generating activities such as agricultural research. On the other hand, they implicitly oppose reformist pohcies. This paper is concerned with the anti-reformist, antl-mterventionist position. The problem anses because most economists conceptuahze a dichotomy between policies that promote general welfare and policies that accommodate "rent seekmg'' attempts by special interests. But when some groups m rural society take advantage of new opportunities, they not only increase eff1c1ency in resource allocatmn but often throw the burden of adjustment on other, frequently weaker, groups. In the transition, safety nets, provided by older agrarian structures, disappear. In the history of western developed countries, farm people responded to those changes with struggles to create their own organizations and to influence government policy. In the Third World, the problems of trans1t10n would seem to be even greater. This paper 1s a plea for attention to these issues by economists.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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