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The political economy of property rights in monarchical Iraq: the quest for land reform 1944–1958

Omar A. M. El-Joumayle and Bassam Yousif

Journal of Institutional Economics, 2019, vol. 15, issue 5, 915-931

Abstract: This article explores the challenges of redefining property rights for land, with application to monarchical Iraq from 1944 to 1958. We apply two processes in the analysis of economic institutions to study history: a puzzle-solving method at the micro level, with broader interest in the role of institutions in development and economic growth at the macro level. Thus, we explore the interaction between demanders and suppliers of land reform in the political market, focusing on the parliamentary influence of big landholders as an interest group. We conclude that despite increasing demand for land reform, politicians were able to supply quantitative change only, consisting of the allocation of newly arable land to landless cultivators, rather than the redistribution of existing assets or qualitative change. We analyse these findings in relation to our concern for the role of institutions in development. Our discussion uncovers key insights into Iraq's political economy and its institutions.

Date: 2019
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