Land and Power

Project: Research

Project Details


While a large literature in the social sciences has considered the implications of different types of political regime for different economic and social outcomes, it has typically focused on simple dichotomies between `democracy' and `dictatorship.' To our knowledge no scholars have considered the idea that electoral corruption, despite the significance of its incidence, may have important and systematic effects on social and economic outcomes.
In this project, we study the implications of such corruption for economic efficiency, factor market equilibrium and inequality. We argue that employment and political control are deeply connected, particularly in agrarian economies. Many employment relationships concede rents to workers. We show that, because of these rents, landlords enjoy a comparative advantage in the control of the political activities of their workers. We thus demonstrate that employment does not simply generate income, it also gives power to control the behavior of others. We also study the implications of this phenomenon for the functioning of the land market.
We examine the implications of the model by considering the the successful introduction of the secret ballot which took place in 1958 in Chile, as the pre-reform period is known as a period of widespread electoral corruption and control of voting behavior in the countryside. We analyze an original data set on land concentration, land prices, the employment of inquilinos and voting outcomes before and after the reform.
Effective start/end date1/10/01 → …


  • Land
  • power


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