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Man and the Economy

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Priests, Conflicts and Property Rights: the Impacts on Tenancy and Land Use in Brazil

Lee J. Alston
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  • Ostrom Workshop, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN; Natural Bureau of Economic Research, USA
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/ Bernardo Mueller
Published Online: 2018-05-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/me-2018-0003


Compared to the rest of the world, farmers in Brazil rely relatively little on tenant contracts. In agriculture, career mobility is associated with moving up the agricultural ladder from working for wages to renting to owning (Alston, L.J., and J.P. Ferrie. 2005. “Time on the Ladder: Career Mobility in Agriculture,” 1890-1938 The Journal of Economic History 65(04): 1058–1081. Cambridge University Press). Alone, this fact may not present a puzzle, but coupled with the large number of landless peasants and large amounts of unused land, the question is, Why don't landowners with unused or underutilized land negotiate land rental contracts with the landless.? In Brazil, this avenue for advancement has been hurt by a reluctance of owners to rent in areas experiencing land conflict. The lack of rentals is an important issue because Brazil is geographically a large country, roughly the size of the continental United States and has an expanding agricultural frontier, some of which is cutting into the Amazon. If the lack of land rentals is pervasive across Brazil and also signals inefficiency in production, the total magnitude is likely to be large when summed across the country.

Keywords: tenancy; brazil


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Published Online: 2018-05-25

Citation Information: Man and the Economy, Volume 5, Issue 1, 20180003, ISSN (Online) 2196-9647, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/me-2018-0003.

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