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Out of communal land: Clientelism through delegation of agricultural tenancy contracts

Takashi Kurosaki, Saumik Paul and Firman Witoelar

Departmental Working Papers from The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics

Abstract: Do local institutions influence the nature of political clientelistic exchange? We find a positive answer in the context of a village institution prevalent in Java since the Dutch colonial rule, where democratically elected village heads receive usufruct rights over a piece of communal village land (bengkok land) as a compensation for their service in lieu of salary. To formulate how limited-term private ownership of bengkok land promotes clientelism, we model a timely delegation of agricultural tenancy contracts to villagers-cum-voters as an incumbent re-election strategy. Based on a household survey fielded in 2018 across 130 villages in Java, Indonesia, we find that the chances of a bengkok plot being rented out increase by 6 percentage points as the time of the next election becomes closer by one year, and sharecropping is preferred to a fixed-rental contract as the election approaches. The empirical results are statistically significant and remain largely unchanged against a series of robustness checks. We also find suggestive evidence of short-term efficiency loss from clientelistic politics over bengkok land.

Keywords: tanah bengkok; political budget cycle; clientelism; agricultural tenancy; electoral competition; Indonesia. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 H77 H83 O17 O18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 55 pages
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-cdm, nep-dev, nep-pol and nep-sea
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:pas:papers:2021-20

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