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Property Rights to Land and Agricultural Organization: An Argentina-United States Comparison

Eric Edwards (), Martin Fiszbein and Gary Libecap ()

No 27750, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: The contributions of Harold Demsetz offer key insights on how property rights and transaction costs shape economic organization. This guides our comparison of agricultural organization in two comparable regions, the Argentine Pampas and the US Midwest. In the US, land was distributed in small parcels and actively traded. In the Pampas, land was distributed in large plots and trade was limited because land was a social and political asset as well as commercial. We analyze why this led to persistently larger farms, specialization in ranching, and peculiar tenancy contracts in Argentina, relative to the US. Our empirical analysis, based on county-level data for both regions, shows that geo-climatic factors cannot explain the observed differences in agricultural organization. We discuss implications for long-term economic development in Argentina.

JEL-codes: K11 L1 L22 N2 N21 N22 N26 N5 N51 N52 N56 O13 Q12 Q15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-his and nep-res
Note: DAE DEV IO LE
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Published as Eric C. Edwards & Martin Fiszbein & Gary D. Libecap, 2022. "Property Rights to Land and Agricultural Organization: An Argentina–United States Comparison," The Journal of Law and Economics, vol 65(S1), pages S1-S33.

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