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Working Paper Series

Are land reforms granting complete property rights politically risky?


  • Alain de Janvry, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
  • Marco Gonzales-Navarro, University of Toronto
  • Elisabeth Sadoulet, University of California at Berkeley


  • Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper (November 2012)


What is the impact on voting behavior of strengthening property rights over agricultural
land? To answer this question, we use the 14 year nationwide rollout of Mexico’s land
certification program (Procede) and match affected communities (ejidos) before and after
the change in property rights with voting outcomes in corresponding electoral sections
across six federal election cycles. We find that, in accordance with the investor class
theory, granting complete property rights induced a conservative shift toward the promarket party equal to 6.8 percent of its average share of votes over the period. This shift was strongest where vested interests created larger expected benefits from marketoriented policies as opposed to public-transfer policies. We also find that beneficiaries failed to reciprocate through votes for the benefactor party. We conclude that, in the
Mexican experience, engaging in a land reform that strengthened individual property
rights over agricultural land was politically advantageous for the right-wing party.

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Last updated on 06/07/2013