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Why Are Land Reforms Granting Complete Property Rights Politically Risky? Electoral Outcomes of Mexi


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


  • Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper (August 2011)


We analyze the impact on voting behavior of strengthening property rights over rural
land. We use the 14 year nationwide rollout of a land certification program in Mexico
(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 pro-market
party. This shift was strongest where vested interests created larger expected benefits
from market-oriented policies as opposed to public-transfer policies. We also find that
beneficiaries failed to reciprocate through votes to the benefactor party. We conclude that
engaging in a land reform that grants complete property rights is only politically
advantageous for a right-wing party, thus providing a rationale as to why so many land
reforms done by autocratic governments remain incomplete.

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Last updated on 07/08/2013